Mr. LuckyBy Jean Fisher
I want to let you know how happy you made our family by bringing Mr. Lucky into our lives! Lucky is the black domestic shorthair neutered male cat we adopted in July on "Free Feline Friday," and we would never have known what a wonderful gentleman he is without the advice of your people there at the shelter.
I have been a
black cat companion for over 40 years – ever since I adopted my first kitty, a black Angora named Mr. Felix when I was 18 – and each of my feline amigos have lived long, healthy lives full of my love and caring.
In May of 2010, however, my cat Plunkett that I raised from a tiny kitten, suddenly took ill and within a matter of a few days had to be put to sleep despite all of our veterinarian's, my husband's and my best efforts. I was so devastated by Plunkett's death that I wasn't sure I could ever adopt another kitty. However, after over more than a year of mourning and at my husband's constant urging, I decided that living without feline energy around me was worse than the potential of having my heart broken again. When I saw the ad in the paper for "Free Feline Friday," it seemed like a sign from above. I determined to go and adopt another black kitten to raise.
I meant to get an earlier start that day, but as it happened, it was mid-afternoon when I arrived. After explaining what I was looking for to the very nice woman working at the shelter, I was told that, unfortunately, the last two kittens the shelter had were in the process of being adopted by the woman who arrived just minutes before I did.
"Would you consider adopting an older cat?" the shelter lady asked me. I thought about it for a moment... Mr. Felix had been a year old when I adopted him and he remained faithfully by my side throughout every major change in my life for the 20 years that followed. "Sure I would," I answered.
There were two separate rooms of adult cats at the time, and there were no black cats in the first one. In the second room there were two black cats that were both large, neutered males – a long hair and a short hair with a tiny locket of white on his chest.
The long haired one was friendly and receptive, rubbing his face on my finger when I poked it through the bars of his cage. He reminded me so much of my Mr. Felix. The second one, the short hair, lay napping facing the wall, and when I approached and spoke to him, he turned only his head surveying me coolly.
Then he looked directly into my eyes and with that look managed to convey everything... "Sure," he seemed to say, "You people come in here and speak to me and then you go, leaving me behind. I'm not going to get my hopes up anymore."
I asked if I could hold each of the kitties for a moment. The long hair was cuddly if not a trifle rambunctious and I gave him back to the lady. When the short hair was put into my arms, however, he was stiff and standoffish. Then, all of a sudden, he pressed his head against my neck and nuzzled against me for just a moment. When I considered what a huge effort he had just made in an attempt to reach out to me, tears came to my eyes... "I'll take this one," I told the lady.
We live some distance away from the shelter, and as I drove home with him on the seat next to me in my pickup in the cardboard carrier provided, I heard him let out a couple of plaintive meows. In a soothing voice, I tried to reassure him that everything would be okay and we would be home soon; however, he poked his paw through one of the air–holes several times and continued to meow.
As I exited the freeway, it startled me to hear loud ripping sounds coming from the carrier and I looked over to see his snout, almost to his ears, poking out of the somewhat larger hole he had just made. At that point I figured that if he wanted out of the carrier that badly, I should let him. He rode the rest of the way home sitting politely on the console next to me. The moment he arrived at our house, he jumped up on the sofa, laid down, curled up, closed his eyes and sighed heavily as if to say "Finally, HOME."
At the shelter he was called "Bageera," but I renamed him Mr. Lucky – not for his luck in at last finding a loving home, but more for OUR luck in having him in our family.
Thank you so so much.
Feeding the DogsBy Anne Figoni – Animal Health Technician
Every day there are more than 100 dogs at the shelter. They are there for a variety of reasons. Lost, abandoned, aggressive, the owners lost their homes, had a baby, moved. Some are there for bite quarantine or for court cases. They represent a tremendous variety of breeds, sizes, ages and mixes. Some are beautiful and healthy with wagging tails and happy faces. Others are painfully neglected, thin, mangy, matted. Most of them would be wonderful companions in the right situation.
I go from kennel to kennel with my big rolling tub of kibble. I also have a bucket of puppy kibble mixed with canned food and hot water for the thin, the young and the very old. I speak to each dog as I go, coaxing those that are scared and catering the amount of food to each dogs needs. A tiny Chihuahua is emaciated and she gets just the puppy kibble. A huge adolescent Shepherd mix gets a heaping bowl. An obese black lab receives a reduced amount, but all get a little of the canned food gravy on top, just to make life a little nicer. This gives me a chance to connect with the dogs.
When I first come in the barking is deafening as the dogs clamor for attention and breakfast. As the dogs are fed and the kennels cleaned, they begin to settle down. The concrete floors are heated and each dog also gets a cushy blanket for added comfort. As I finish up my morning, the dogs become quieter. Most of them settle on their blankets and peace descends on the kennels. I know that many of the adoptable dogs will get out for exercise and playtime with the volunteers later, and it means a lot to me to know that the dogs are getting good food and comfort here.
News from the Vet Room
Queen of the Road
By Cathy McCafferty – Shelter Supervisor
Meet Miranda, a special little Chihuahua whose story touched so many here at the shelter. She came to us broken in spirit and in body. Miranda had been hit by a car leaving her paralyzed in the hind quarters. Miranda's prognosis was not good. She could not use her back legs, nor could she urinate on her own. Shelter staff had to express her bladder several times a day to give her relief.
The veterinary staff worked with her every day in hopes she'd regain some feeling and movement in her back legs and that she would be able to urinate on her own. Miranda loved the attention and was always happy to cooperate with anything anyone wanted her to do.
We reached out to several rescue groups, but no one was set up to take her with her disabilities. We thought for sure we would have to euthanize her, but then, an Angel named Robyn contacted us. Robyn said she was a Registered Veterinary Technician, equivalent to a human Registered Nurse, and that she specialized in animals with disabilities.
Robyn made a few calls and was able to get a wheelchair donated for Miranda. The chair needed a few quick adjustments and once completed they placed Miranda in it. It did not take any time at all for Miranda to figure out she was mobile again. She was off! We were drawn to tears watching Miranda run again as she appeared to have the biggest smile on her face with her tongue flapping in the wind.
Miranda was transferred to Norsled Rescue. Although they specialize in Nordic breeds such as Huskies and Malamutes, they contacted us when they heard Miranda's story and made a special exception in her case. Miranda is living happily ever after in her new forever home.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree
By Shirley Zindler – Animal Control Officer
A frantic call from 911 was transferred to shelter dispatch. A distraught teenager insisted that his dog had its head caught in a tree. Dispatch was unable to get a clear understanding of what had happened, and the call was given to me as the nearest officer. Curious as to what I would find, I pulled up at the attractive home within minutes and was met by a teenage brother and sister. They hastily escorted me around to their spacious backyard and pointed out the unfortunate dog.
A tremendous eucalyptus tree had split down the middle forming a deep crack in the trunk. Somehow the beautiful black Labrador, in her quest to find a mouse or a squirrel, had stuck her head in the groove and become wedged. The trunk made somewhat of a "V," getting narrower the nearer it got to the ground. She must have put her head in up high and then lowered it to the narrower area where she was unable to pull free. She was obviously scared and in distress and began to growl as I approached. I talked soothingly to her as I assessed the problem.
The parents were not home but it was obvious that the kids cared deeply about their dog. The daughter was in tears and the son was planning to get a saw and cut the tree down to save his pet. The fact that the tree was humungous and would have obliterated the neighbor's house if it fell was of no consequence. He was determined to rescue her. I admired his dedication, but my motto is "If it got in, I can get it out."
I approached the dog and began to feel around her neck to see how to best remove her from her predicament. It should have been easy enough to just lift her straight up to the wider section where her head would fit through. Unfortunately, the trunk narrowed and dipped in at one point, preventing me from doing that. I had to wonder how she even managed to get in there in the first place. I tried to lift the 70-plus-pound dog while tipping her forward, but she remained wedged. I next lifted her hindquarters, changing the angle of her head. I could see that this would be more effective, so I lifted her rear higher while carefully maneuvering her neck into a better position. I practically had to stand her on her head but finally was able to lift her free.
The delighted dog went into typical Lab wiggles and wags of joy as she jumped ecstatically all over her young owners and whipped her tail into a frenzy. Calls like this are what I call the fun stuff. They are a win-win situation for everyone involved and help make up for some of the sad, difficult things we deal with in our line of work.
Karen Cox and Robin Johnson
By Greg Mortensen – Volunteer Coordinator
Running an animal shelter is no small feat, and there is much we could not do without the outstanding support of all of our dedicated volunteers. Among our many excellent volunteers, there are two very special individuals whose contributions have not gone unnoticed.
Karen Cox and Robin Johnson have volunteered at the Sonoma County Animal Shelter for seven years and have donated an unmeasureable amount of love and energy during that time. They volunteer in almost every facet of the volunteer program, including cat cuddling and dog walking, fostering, fundraising and mobile adoptions. Their positive impact on so many animals and the staff makes them truly irreplaceable.Karen and Robin are always looking for ways to support the shelter and to promote the many wonderful animals that we have for adoption. They have a store in Guerneville, Guerneville 5 & 10, and are very involved in their community. Karen and Robin were able to include the animal shelter in the "Animal" event with their friends at the Sonoma Nesting Co. in Guerneville this past September. Three kittens and two dogs were able to find four great homes to love them forever.
Karen and Robin also demonstrate tons of love by the type of animal that they tend to foster or adopt. They go out of their way with huge hearts, and even their own pocketbook at times, to advocate for and care for the geriatric animals that we have. It can be very challenging to say the least, but Karen and Robin are always happy to do as much as they can to provide the best possible happy ending for these special needs animals.
We would like to take a moment and thank Karen and Robin for all that they do for the animal shelter and especially, our furry friends. We could not do it without you!
If you are interested in volunteering at the shelter, please contact Greg Mortensen at (707) 565-7116 or visit us on-line at www.theanimalshelter.org for more information.