Friday, August 28, 2009

You would think

You would think that by now I would have fostered an animal or two or twelve. That is not the case, unless you count Penny and Maggie, who I tried to foster but ended up keeping, once they made themselves at home here they were mine. I also tend to want to keep every dog that comes into the pound, as well as every black and white cat or orange cat. So, when the Himalayans came in, I thought, this is my chance. I can be a successful cat foster! I am allergic to their long hair, and they won't be in my home long enough to get attached to them.

So I started with three - Spice Cake (whose real secret name is Yeti, for her big fluffy feet), and two kittens, Scotch and Soda.

So cute, aren't they? Scotch and Soda were adopted out, to a woman who volunteers with a Siamese rescue group. And really, as much as I loved having them here, I am relived they are gone! They had to have their rear ends washed a few times a day, they couldn't clean themselves yet. Apparently the mom cat does this for them until they are a certain age, and these two had not reached that age yet. So, that was something I was not counting on!

I still have Spice Cake/Yeti; Billy is falling in love with her Muppet face, and I am glad that we know two great people who may adopt her. Because I am determined that I will adopt her out- then I can say I have successfully fostered more animals than I have kept. The little sasquatch has wormed her way into my heart though, by climbing into my lap when I am on the computer or reading, by trying to catch my scissors when I am sewing, and by the way she loves to imitate Maggie, and follow her around. A little copycat. She is very affectionate and sweet, something I did not expect from a cat who came from a situation like she did. Now I have two shadows, Penny and Spice Cake. Maggie is too independent to follow me around, she likes to run the show, and tell me when I am going to pet her or cuddle her, not the other way around. Maggie and Spice Cake are even getting along now, and are BFFs.

So, you would think that it is too hard to foster an animal; too much work, too hard not to fall in love with them, too hard to adopt them out. And sometimes this is all true. I already can't imagine my house without bigfoot padding around silently, looking up at us with her confused little face. But I know that she will be going to a good home, and that I helped place her there. And that now, I can help another animal out, one that might be in the pound waiting to be let out of its cage and into a home. As much as I want to hold on, these cute little fluff balls have taught me that letting go can be a good thing too.

So not anything too entertaining or thought provoking today, just a little musing, brought on by the rain.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cat Trap Fever

It has been cat crazy around here lately. Last week, our local pound had a seizure of 28 cats and kittens, which were apparently being bred in a backyard breeding scenario. It was the feline equivalent to a puppy mill. I can't say much about this case, as it is still pending, but this is one reason I don't like breeding. Too many people look at animals as an easy way to make money, rather than think about the animals life, and what they are doing to it. Breeding to keep breed lines I think is not that bad, if they are responsible breeders, I mean we wouldn't want certain breeds to just die out. It is still difficult for me to get behind though, when I see so many homeless animals in pounds everyday.
I have spent the past five days cat trapping. This is my first time participating in this aspect of animal rescue, and it was pretty rewarding. My aunt and uncle have had feral cats visit their backyard for two years now, and we are finally working on stopping the cycle. Animal rescue is never glamorous- often you are wearing your grubbiest clothes because you know you are going to get dirty, whether by actual dirt or grease from the animals fur (they get dirty out there on their own!), or by other unspeakable acts. We are also spit at, scratched, bitten, thrown up on, all kinds of fun stuff. I can almost deal with all that. But trapping cats involves getting up early, something that I detest. Plus, you never really know what you are going to catch- it could be a cat, or it could be a raccoon, or a possum, or a skunk, not animals I really want to mess with, especially when they are angry about being trapped in a cage.
Yesterday morning though I caught a big old orange tom, with a giant head and an attitude. He wanted out of the trap so badly, I felt bad for him - he kept ramming his noggin into the trap bars trying to force his way out. He reminded me of Thomas O'Malley from Aristocats, and I just know he is the father of all the cats in the neighborhood, the dominant male of this pride. Yesterday though, ended his days of being a deadbeat dad, our rescue group took him straight to the vet where he was neutered. I also caught a small gray female tabby with him; she was smaller and younger, of course, probably a trophy girlfriend, who was also fixed at the same time. Those two will not be populating the neighborhoods of Riverview anymore.
Today my uncle called to tell me I caught another one. I was praying it was really a cat, and not a skunk, since my aunt told me only that it was a black and white animal. Thank goodness, it was a cute little "teenager." This one was less than a year old, and black and white and so cute. It was less feral than the cats from yesterday, and is currently at the vets right now, waiting its turn to be spayed or neutered. I have dubbed her ( I think she is a girl, although I am not sure) Mamie.
To me, all the evenings I have spent baiting these traps, checking the traps, getting up early, figuring out how they are getting to the vets and getting home, is worth it. In seven years one female cat can have 420,000 kittens. In a country where 6-8 million cats and dogs are euthanized every year because there are not enough homes for all the animals out there, we don't need this kind of population explosion. If the cat today is a female, potentially 840,000 kitten lives were prevented, which sounds kind of cruel until you think that most of them would never be a pet, they would live on the streets, where they could get diseased, hit by a car, attacked by other animals, even tortured by terrible people. And even if they ended up in a shelter, there is no guarantee they would be adopted, and would more than likely be euthanized. What kind of life is that to be born into? For every animal to have a home in the U.S. right now, every person would have to have 7 dogs and 21 cats. Just some things to think about before you adopt an animal.
Rescue an animal from a rescue group or a pound. If you want a purebred dog or cat, there are actually many rescue groups that just rescue purebreds, because believe it or not, they end up being unwanted too. And spay and neuter your pets- it is good for their health, and helps prevent overpopulation.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Thank You

In animal rescue, you realize, as much as you hate to think about it, admit it, deal with it, you can't save all the animals. Sometimes, you get an animal that just does not seem like it is adoptable as it currently is, but with a little work you know that it could be turned around and rehabilitated. Unfortunately there is not enough space at shelters, or even in foster homes alot of times, to allow the time for this to happen. There are not enough Cesar Milan's, and certainly not one in our area who will come to the pound and change a dog for us, and there are not enough sanctuaries out there like Best Friends in Utah to be able to take all the animals who are unable to live a normal life as a companion animal.

At the beginning of June, an overfluffed, matted, senior cocker spaniel mix was dropped off at the pound. She was a give up, her original owner had passed away, and the son of this person could not care for Buffy, which is her name. She looked to be very neglected, and had a very serious ear infection, that leaked black goo, caused her pain, and she understandably did not like anyone to touch her ears. She had a bit of an attitude problem as well - I took her to an adoption event, and after an hour, she was snapping and snarling at people who thought she was cute and wanted to pet her. I had to take her back to the shelter for the rest of the night, Buffy was not happy and I couldn't take the chance she would hurt someone.

The pound 501(c)3, Pound Pals, paid for Buffy to get her ears checked out and for medicine to clear them up. This was not an inexpensive procedure, as she needed to be knocked out for anyone to do anything to her ears. When she came back to the pound, she seemed a little better, since the hurt was gone. But Buffy's temperment was still not all that great, she didn't seem to like men or children too much, and didn't show well, meaning that when people crouched to see her in her kennel, she would bark and growl and look as fierce as a cocker mix can. When she was with the female volunteers who knew her, she was a sweet little thing, but for anyone else, she was a terror. It was like that line in the children's rhyme When she was good/she was very, very good/but when she was bad/she was horrid.

I have to admit, I kind of gave up on her-I didn't trust her, and didn't see how we could adopt her out to anyone. Even if the person adopting her was female, more than likely they had men or children in their lives for Buffy to menace. As much as I liked her, and as much as I understood that Buffy's demeanor was not her fault, she was obviously mistreated terribly, and therefore she didn't trust anyone, I didn't think we could feasibly adopt her out.

But thankfully, my friends at the shelter never gave up on her - they always believed the right people or person would come along, that we were there to take care of her until that happened. Even when hard decisions had to be made, Buffy made it through, because they believed in her that much. And maybe because of their belief in her, because they cared for her so much and kept the faith that her day would come, it did. Last week on a night I wasn't there, two girls, sisters, came to the pound looking for a dog. And they found Buffy waiting for them. Buffy loved them from the first, and they were familiar with quirks of cocker spaniels, so knew to expect some diva behavior from her on occasion. They filled out the application for her, the only ones who ever did in three months, and passed the vet check with a phenomenal check. Buffy had found a home.

I was there when they came to pick Buffy up to take home. I walked into the pound, saw this happy, perky, bouncy, cute cocker spaniel on a leash, bright eyed and wanting to play. I figured they had either found this dog, or were giving her up. I asked if I could help them, and they said they were there to finish the adoption paperwork. I peeked back over the counter on tiptoe, took a second look at this dog, and did a double take. This cute little happy pup was Buffy. Two volunteers from the pound had paid for her to get groomed, and she looked fabulous. I think the haircut, combined with an instinctual sense that now things were going to be better, transformed Buffy into a different dog. We have heard from them, and Buffy is doing great, without any agression to anyone, and just plays and plays all day.

So I learned from my friends and this dog, not to give up. Maybe I was becoming to desensitized; to volunteer at the pound, you do need to protect your emotions somewhat, and a scab forms over that part of your heart, and you protect to make sure that it is not torn off too often. But my friends and Buffy renewed my faith, opening my eyes again, showing me that good does happen sometimes for animals like Buffy. And I thank them all for that, and wish Buffy the best of love in her new home.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Blueberry Summer

I both love and hate August. I love it because it means I still have one month before I go back to work, and hate it for the same reason.

My days recently have been a mess of frantically busy days and lazy slow days. I am either running around, to the gym, to the pound, to recycling, to different events - either socially or for our rescue group, or I am ensconced on our couch, windows open to the breeze if there is one, reading the day away. On days like that, I usually fall asleep as well. I have been eating alot of blueberries, yogurt and granola, usually for breakfast and lunch. My friend Jennifer, her son James, and I went blueberry picking the other day, where I picked two pints of blueberries (I think they were pints - they were big baskets). They have been sustaining me since then. Chrissy told me they are good frozen too, I am going to try that today. By the end of the summer I may look like Violet Beauregarde.

I think I have been taking lessons from Penny and Maggie - either they are sound asleep, flopped wherever they are comfortable, or they are racing around at top speed. Maggie will be sleeping on the table in a ray of sunshine, and an hour later be doing laps around our house that would put Speed Racer to shame. Penny loves to sleep on the couch when she is not outside; once outside she is a different dog, running so fast her back legs almost stumble her by overtaking her front legs! I read that English Setters and other breeds with strong hunting drives conserve energy when not outside on the hunt. Instictively, they save their energy for when they are hunting, when it is necessary for them to have reserves of energy. I like to think that is what my afternoons of reading and napping are about- just me saving energy, for when I need it the most.