Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Special Feature: Tashi's Treats

This is LONG overdue! I am ashamed of myself for not writing earlier and worse, for not sharing this! So where do I even begin? I met Natasha, nicknamed Tashi, a couple of years ago while I was in Gainesville. Since then, she has grown into one of the most compassionate and dedicated young girls I have ever met. She set her mind to creating a project to help less fortunate animals...and guess what? She made that dream into a reality! So inspiring!

T makes these adorable and unique pocket hearts, all handmade, that you can buy online on her Etsy site. Each month she chooses an organization to donate the proceeds made from her crafts. Below is a picture of the rescue she chose for her first month, Gainesville Pet Rescue. This month she chose Second Chance Farms, a non-profit animal rescue and rehabilitation organization also located in Gainesville.

It takes initiative and heart to make a difference like this, and I couldn't be more proud of her. In T's own words, "anyone can make a difference, no matter how little".

Want to help? Visit Tashi's Etsy site and get yourself one of these adorable handmade pocket hearts! Proceeds go to the animal welfare organization of the month :) 

Please check out her blog and let's show her our support!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Updates...OH MY!

Now where do I even begin??? I've had a lot going on this past month with the holidays, work, and school...and it's only going to get crazier! But I miss my blog and I wanted to update everyone on a couple of things.

Raina the Australian Shepherd

This is Raina the 6 month old Australian Shepherd. I saw her for the first time the day after she was brought in, and I KNEW that she was a special dog. I immediately wanted to adopt her and I almost did...

I ended up fostering her for a couple of days to see if adopting a dog now would be a good idea and also to work with her for that time. Her previous family was a lady and her young son that had (I believe) it was Turrets or some form of autism, and any time Raina would get too excited and play a little rough, he would hit her. Now I don't know how bad it was or if it was even as bad as it sounded, but she was getting to the point of biting back out of fear and defense. That's when the mom decided to bring her in to the shelter before it got worse. Luckily she's very young and once she we taken out of that environment, her nipping stopped and she seemed to immediately relax and be her happy self.

The time I had her at home was...interesting to say the least. Raina was wonderful, always happy and excited to see me and ready to play 24/7! The first encounter with my cat Jax was tense at first, her hackles were raised and Jax was definitely not pleased to see her. Anytime he ran away she would run right after him...which I could expect because it's in her nature. As an Australian Shepherd, her instinct is to herd other animals and chase I had to keep them separated for the first couple of days.

Then what do you know...they got ALONG! I was actually surprised that it happened so quickly and that she stopped chasing him and he stopped running away. But then I really took the time to think about it, and I realized that I am not ready to adopt and commit to a dog right now. At this point in my life, I am focusing on my goals for the future and with work, school, and other commitments, I'm almost never home! Financially I am also on a tight budget, so I decided after a lot of thinking that it wouldn't be in Raina's best interest for me to adopt her. I wouldn't be able to provide the time and attention she needs and deserves, so I brought her back from fostering and luckily she was adopted that same day.  I also didn't keep Edward my other foster cat for the same reason, I'm going to end up with a zoo if I want to keep every foster! That's the only difficult thing I've found about fostering, bringing them back. I get attached very easily and if I ever want to foster again in the future to help other animals, I can't keep them all. Doesn't ever get any easier though...

I did learn quite a bit with Raina and what it takes to really care for a dog. I'll adopt a dog once I feel ready and know that I can really commit to them. My time will come eventually! Bringing her back to the shelter though was EXTREMELY difficult, and that was after only 4 days AND I was just fostering her. Which got me on Earth can people bring in their pet after years of being with them just because they're moving, can't afford them, etc, etc.??? I could barely do it after a couple of days of JUST fostering...I would never ever be able to do that to my own dog or cat that I've had for a long time. I just don't get it.


On to a happier note! One of my favorite long timers at the shelter was adopted and I just had to share! He was a very special dog that I fell in love with, and I am so happy to see the family he is with now. They absolutely love him and have been spoiling and enjoying him ever since. Booster is a male Pitbull that was brought in originally because his family was moving, and was here for a very long time. He was actually adopted out twice from the shelter and brought back both times because they were "unable to handle him". Basically, he was too strong for them and they couldn't or didn't want to even try.

Booster is a big baby that wouldn't hurt a fly, but he was pure muscle and walking him was quite a task. A normal leash and collar wouldn't do the trick with him; the only way he could be easily walked was with an easy walk harness on him. Once he had that on, he walked like a dream! He didn't pull or drag you down at all, and we explained that to the adopters and that was the first thing they bought for him. Now he is one happy adopted boy with (from what they told me) a huge comfy bed all for himself, although apparently he'd rather be on the bed with his owner. So glad he got his happy ending!

The Cat in the House

I found this adorable house for Jax and bought it for him, and he loved it! Just had to share.

My New Car

My last update is about my shiny new car. My old car threw in the towel on my way to work about a month ago, so I made my first big girl purchase and bought myself a new car. It's newer version of my old car and I absolutely love it. This is the front end of it...of course I had to put my own personal touch on it. More posts to come soon :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Be The Change - Pet Relinquishment

Oct 15: Be, Blog, Read, Share the Change for Animals!

Today is a special post, "Blog the Change for Animals!". I am participating in a blog hop along with other pet bloggers that are also writing in support of various causes and coming together to share information and ideas :)

Fun Fact: October is Adopt a Shelter Pet Month !!! WOO HOO!!! My next topic will be on that :) 

The topic I wanted to touch on today was pet relinquishment; the reason why SO many shelters have SO many animals. Have you ever wondered how we receive all the pets at the shelter? Where do they come from? Why did people give them up? Many come in thinking that most of our pets were lost or stray animals and are always shocked to find out that NONE of them are lost or stray animals...but pets from previous homes that someone just didn't want anymore.

The non-profit shelter I work at only takes in owner relinquished pets, while Animal Services (county funded) takes in all animals, especially lost or stray animals. So why do people bring them in? I found an interesting study done by the National Council on Pet Population that shows the top 10 reasons for cats and dog:

"We're moving...we just can't take him with us." OH man, if I had a dollar for every time I have heard that statement, I'd be RICH! That is by far the most common reason people bring in their dogs, with finances and time commitment coming in second and third. Allergies is a big one with cats and people also find themselves with litters of kittens...and by the time they know it, they have 6 cats. Spaying and neutering IS SO IMPORTANT! And then of course we always hear the craziest stories or the ones that want to make you cry...every day is a new day.

What can we do to stop people from bringing their pets to the shelter? In truth, EDUCATION IS KEY. People need to realize that owning a pet is a long term commitment and not short term. Also, early obedience training can help avoid future behavioral issues. There are so many resources in your community that can help with training and in all other aspects of your pets life.

Somehow these resilient pets seem to have this amazing ability to move on and move forward with their lives and always are willing to forgive. They always live in the moment and it always makes me wonder...why can't we be more like that? Letting go of resentment and angry feelings will ultimately make us happier people. So how about we learn some life lessons from our pets and have a more positive outlook in life :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Zeus the Cane Corso

Meet the very amazing and sweet big boy named Zeus, the Cane Corso. I have seen many Mastiff breed dogs come into the shelter and many more mixed breeds, but never a Cane Corso! The Cane Corso is an Italian Mastiff that was bred to hunt and act as a guard dog. They are powerful big dogs that require an experienced owner and plenty of socialization and training. The Corso is known to be very headstrong and intelligent, which can be both a good and bad thing. Zeus is quite a special dog with plenty of personality; he absolutely LOVES human interaction and giving affection. He really thinks he is a lapdog too because every time we take him out to the rec yard and one of us sits down on a bench, he tries to lay down on your lap (even if half of his body is dangling off). Zeus is truly the definition of a "gentle giant".

Now here are some pictures of Jax and Edward, my ex-foster/new kitty, enjoying a nap in the middle of the day. If you didn't see my last blog post, Edward is a cat that I took in to foster for sometime while he healed from his neutering procedure. He was in a cage for the past 7 months and was unable to go into a free roam room with other cats because he wasn't he had no idea how to live outside of a cage until just recently. Every noise made him run the other way and all the smells were new to him. Watching him experience everything for the first time was incredible and it has been so rewarding to see him grow and be more comfortable at home :)

Edward took over Jax's bed and at first Jax didn't know where to go. So I found him sleeping on the floor, then right next to the bed playing with Edward...and then he eventually decided to just share and sleep right on top of poor Edward...and Edward didn't seem to mind at all! He seems so at peace in the house and has slowly become more active, curious, and playful with us and with Jax.

I think this is exactly what Jax needed, a friend to keep him company and play with...especially when I'm not home. I catch them chasing each other around the house all the time and even better, snuggling and taking naps together. They are the cutest thing and have become instant brothers! :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Foster #2: Awkward Edward

Working 6 days in a row is EXHAUSTING! I finally have a day off today and can semi-relax at home and cross of some things on my to-do list. So much to do so little time!

Let me start by introducing you to my foster for a week and half: Edward.

Honestly his name is just Edward, my boyfriend and I gave him the nickname "Awkward Edward". Edward came into the shelter in mid April and is now approximately a year old. We have four free roam rooms in our cat building where our kitties have the ability to be out of a cage and live a more comfortable life until they are adopted. Unfortunately, unuttered male cats can't be in the rooms for a couple of reasons. Intact male cats are more likely to be territorial and fight as well as mark their territory, which is called spraying or marking. Unspayed female cats are known to do it as well, but it is more common in males than with females. Urine is what's sprayed out onto walls and furniture, and it   is usually a stress reliever for the cats. It's their way of coping with dealing with stress...and at the same time it's telling you something is going on! Young male cats exhibit the behavior more and it can usually be avoided by neutering them early. We attempted making a room that had some intact males with spayed females and it was a DISASTER! The stink from the spraying was extremely difficult to get rid of and many of them would try to dart out of the door whenever they had a chance (searching a mate).

So poor Awkward Edward came into the shelter with two things against him: young male and intact. This meant that he had to stay in a cage until he got adopted. He's been at the shelter since mid-April, which means he's been living in a cage for almost 7 months! A little more than half of his life has been spent in a cage with little human interaction and outside enrichment. It's been tough getting him adopted because anytime someone visits with him in a meet and greet room, he's nervous and uncomfortable. And can you blame him? So we decided to get him neutered, I would foster him until he heals, and then return him to the shelter. Now he gets to be in a free roam room with more space and no more cage life! :)

Here he is exploring at my house and experiencing a bunch of new smells and objects. When I first opened the carrier, he ran right under the bed and didn't come out for a while. Slowly he's been creeping around and learning how to be more comfortable in his new surroundings. What I found funny is how he would bump his nose on things around the house then run away, it was his way of testing things out. Hence the name "Awkward Edward"! He was fidgety, skittish, nervous, and awkward and is still slowly transitioning into a more confident kitty.

Jax has been a wonderful foster brother to Edward :) I let them socialize whenever I'm home and they have become buddies. I've noticed Jax is friends with anybody (human and animal) that I bring he's a great first friend for Edward. He's gentle enough so as not to scare him with rough play, but friendly enough that I find Edward roaming around the house looking for him. I hope that this will help Edward show his sweet personality more at the shelter and helps him find a permanent home.