Monday, September 9, 2019

Guinea Pig Tips ( and cute pics) from an HRA Adopter

It's always fun to hear from recent adopters. It's even better to get pictures. When Iris contacted me recently regarding  student volunteer opportunities at HRA, she mentioned she adopted two guinea pigs from the shelter. I wrote back immediately asking for an update, complete with her best guinea pig care tips; Iris kindly obliged. 

Chusca and Wombat have been with me for close to a year and I absolute adore them! Wombat  is 2 years old. I chose him because I thought that most people would pick a younger guinea pig. Chusca is  a 1 year and 4 months. He was only a baby when I adopted him. 

My guinea pigs tips are: 

  • Make sure that you spend time with them whenever you can. Guinea pigs are very sociable and affectionate animals, but if you don’t give them attention for a while they begin to become shy. 
  • Find treats they like. Chusca and Wombat love to eat fruits and veggies --  their favourites are apples and kale. 
  • I trained them to know when they are getting treats by clicking my tongue. Its a great way to reward them. 

Thank you, Iris, for adopting Wombat and Chusca and sharing their adorable pictures and your best guinea pig tips with me!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Back to School!

Lots of families walk their dogs when they walk their children to school. It's a good way for the family dog to get exercise and enjoy varied surroundings. Plus, it's good for kids, too --  saying good-bye to poochie at the school's front door is a pleasant way to start the day. However, many schools have "No dogs on school property" rules and some students may be frightened by your friendly Fido. Be considerate. Know and follow the rules.  And, be respectful of others feelings.

Your dog will definitely be happy to see you when you get home from school. Schedule time before homework for a little extra attention at the end of a long day -- a game of fetch or tug, a good brushing, or an afternoon walk. Don't forget extra attention for kitty and small animals, too. They are adjusting to the schedule change and will be happy to welcome you  home.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Caring Kids Campers Met Interesting People, Socialized Animals, and Created Masterpieces During the Summer

Pinot and Miso visit All About Animals
Art and Animals campers use Grisaille technique
 to paint pictures of shelter cats.
Career Exploration campers 
are introduced to  Horace, Dr. Costanzo's bird
Dr. Hodgson and campers brainstorm  
possible diagnosis during Animal Advocates camp.
Campers attending HRA's four weeks of Caring Kids summer camps explored animal-centered careers, met a number of animals -- including snakes, guinea pigs, rabbits, amphibians, cats, and dogs, plus they participated in a number of workshops strategizing ways to advocate for those who can't speak for themselves and created and exhibited masterful animal art. While everyone loved cuddling with kittens and training dogs, we are certain that our animal-loving campers learned something that they will use to make the world a better place for all animals.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A carload of donations for the animals!
Molly happily visits with Arya
When Arya, a rising 9th grader, decided to help HRA help the animals as a means of earning her Girl Scout Silver Award, she decided to spearhead a linen collection. But, not just any linen collection, she contacted local hotels and asked if they would donate their castoff towels and sheets to HRA. The Omni Shoreham hotel on Calvert Street, N.W. said that they routinely donate their used linens to other organizations, but would be happy to make regular contributions to HRA, too. Arya's mom served as linen transporter. Her sedan was packed (trunk and back seat) full of bags of white towels and sheets. The linens came at a crucial time for the shelter. Our shelters are filled to capacity with cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens waiting for homes. Linens are used for cleaning kennels, bathing animals, and bedding.
Thanks, Arya, for arranging the Omni's generous donation and employing your mom to help get the linens to HRA. There are lots of white towels and sheets being used in our kennels today!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Summer Reading Recomendations

It's fun to shop at school book fairs, especially when they offer BOGO. I picked up eight  books at Center City Public Charter School -- Petworth Campus' recent sale.The photo on Cecilia Galante's Strays Like Us book cover got my attention, but it was the heartfelt, first person narrative that sucked me in and held me until the last page. Fred (Winifred) is one of those middle school protagonists who goes through a whirlwind of emotional changes in 300 pages! She is  supported a long the way by an eccentric, motorcycle driving, welder foster mom; a bullied classmate determined to be Fred's friend; and an abused neighbor dog. The motley band of misfits are survivors. Fred's mother's drug addiction is  central to the story, but not a main story line. It's Fred's relationships with the others that drive the story and highlight  Fred's resiliency and transformation. Some of the dog scenes are difficult to read; they make you wonder why animal control couldn't step in and remove the dog. It's a small rural town where everyone minds their own business, so the lack of humane law intervention does  not come out of left field. Fred and Toby, the old dog, eventually come together for keeps after a series of breath-sucking, tragic events.
I also picked up Royal Dogs, a quick, fun read that highlights the journey of Meghan Markle's rescue beagle, Guy. The little dog traveled from a shelter in Kentucky to an adoption event in Canada. That's where the Duchess met him and fell in love. He then moved to England with Meghan where he is enjoying a legitimately royal life. Lots of famous people have adopted shelter animals, probably so many that an entire book could be filled of with their photos and stories.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Being Kind to Animals All Year Long!

Last week, May 5th 11th,  marked the 104th clebration of  Be Kind to Animals Week. While such a commemoration is nice, we think being kind to animals should be every day, of every month, of every year. Madison, a Stone Ridge of the Sacred Heart student must think so, too. In September 2018 she and her classmate Sarah  co-founded BARK! an on campus club that met monthly during the school year to raise awareness and money for the animals. Recently, they focused on helping shelter animals. through the sale of Pura Vida bracelets . They sold so many bracelets that they contributed more than $1,000 to help HRA help the animals. Earlier in the year they made cat dancers ourt of pipe cleaners and straws for our many shelter cats. And, last Friday several members of the group, along with their advisor, and Madison's dad visited our Oglethorpe Street shelter to see just exactly how their generous donations were being used. In addition, they went to work helping us promote some of our adoptable animals on their own social networks. The girls concluded the visit by stating that their efforts will not end with the close of the school year. They are planning on continuing to do their good  work through BARK! during the 2019-20 school year.On behalf of the animals, thanks ladies!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Tyler Elementary School's Pre-K Students Are Awesome Animal Helpers

Tyler Elementary School's youngest animal lovers spent the spring studying animals. They decided to help HRA help the animals by collecting much needed supplies from our wish list.Their drive concluded  yesterday, during Be Kind to Animals Week. The children were excited about donating food, toys, treats, collars, leashes, blankets and towels for the animals. They handed over the donation-stuffed bags and boxes during a HRA humane education visit emphasizing safety around dogs. We read the silly book, Don't Lick the Dog, Making Friends With Dogs, by Wendy Wahman. Several of the pre-k students shared that they absolutely don't lick dogs, but their dogs do lick them! 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

A Week at HRA!

Caring Kids Spring Break Camp campers met many  animals during their week at HRA. They also helped us help the animals by making cat and dog toys, assembling pupscicles (frozen dog treats made with dog food, peanut butter, applesauce, and pumpkin) and decorated e-collars to give a festive look to recently spayed and neutered dogs and cats awaiting adoption. Campers were always eager to offer pats and cuddles to every animal they met.

The start of summer camp is less than 8-
weeks away. Lots of animal welfare enthusiasts live in the DMV; all four summer camps -- Careers, All About Animals, Animal Advocates, and Art and Animals -- are completely full. We are excited to have lots of new workshop leaders this year and many past camp favorites returning to share their passion, expertise, and animals with us! 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

What's Better than Curling Up with a Good Book -- Reading a Good Book to a Good Dog!

Marley sneaks a peak at a dog training book.
Ralph (& David) listen  intently
and enjoys the colorful photos.
Wilson, Ms. Clark, and readers take a smile break
Ruff Readers is a collaborative effort; Humane Rescue Alliance, PAL (People Animals Love), and Center City Public Charter School Petworth Campus planned, organized, and implemented the Monday afternoon reading program.  One of the keys to a successful in -school reading to dogs program is having the administration on board. That was an easy sell. Principal Burgy's little rescue dog, Marley, is a regular at the school. While Marley, who is deaf, may not be able to hear the story,  he's very good at offering moral support.
The dogs have been listening to the fifth graders read, but beginning next week other students will be signing up to read to a dog for 20 minutes. Many dogs will sit, lay down, or rest endlessly while they listen to a good story.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Altruistic Kids Help Animals at HRA

When Brownie Troop #4608 decided to help the animals at HRA in order to earn their "pet badge" they took a multifaceted approach -- they walked dogs to earn money for HRA ($223.00!!), made lots and lots of toys for the animals, collected much-needed linens, and brought leashes and other items given to them by a local veterinary hospital. The Troop delivered their donations during a Sunday morning tour. They got to visit the animals who will benefit from their kindness and generosity. 

Just as the girls were leaving, Jack and his mom stopped by. They had a car filled with donations that Jack collected at his school. When asked why he orchestrated the collection, he responded that he loves his dog and wants to help the animals at HRA. 
It sure inspires hope in the future when you meet such thoughtful and compassionate kids. Thank you Brownie Troop #4608, Jack,  and all of the in-kind Norwood School donors.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Turn up the Volume -- Enjoy Winnie's Serenade

I was cat-sitting on Christmas. Winnie (formerly Minky at HRA) was getting into the holiday spirit, entertaining me with  her favorite kitty carol. I think the translation was something like "All I want for Christmas is a little extra love and attention". 
I was happy to oblige.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Murch Elementary School's Student Council's Supply Drive for the Animals -- an Overwhelming Success!

Murch Elementary School's student council's posters papered the hallways for nearly a month encouraging the Murch community to support the animals during the holiday season. Not only did the poster designers list items needed for the cats, dogs, and small animals at HRA, but they directed contributors to our web site so families could donate directly through Amazon. In addition to posters and announcements, the student council promoted their HRA supply drive on the Murch Twitter feed:
The collection in the school's lobby!

The Murch community came through in a big way.

The collection in my car! 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Center City PCS, Petworth, Girls on the Run Organizes a Linen Drive for the Animals at HRA

Girls on the Run not only train together, but they support their community together. The kind, compassionate, civic-minded members recently decided to support HRA by hosting a linen drive. They papered their school with informative posters and placed a collection box in a centrally located spot within the school. The day after the signs went up, donations started filling the box. No doubt, when the drive ends November 16th, the box will be full.  The shelter uses linens for bedding for the animals and for cleaning the shelter. We depend on the community to help us help the animals. Thank you Center City PCS Girls on the Run for organizing the linen drive and for letting the Center City PCS community know that HRA needs and appreciates their generous support.  

Friday, October 26, 2018

Brothers' Update

The boys go to the vet.
The bonded brothers not only have a new home, but they have new names. Jasper, the more domineering of the two, and Oliver, the one with the fluffy tail, recently had their first official vet visit. Of course staff loved them. Their guardian reports that all of that cuddling and togetherness in their condo at HRA has, however, gone by the wayside. They've each found their own favorite spots and are not prone to sharing spaces in their new surroundings. Lots of adjustments for all -- guardian and Jasper and Oliver. Expecting to hear that life is a bit more settled in a month or two.
Murphy likes to be where the action is.
The stove was off.
No cats were cooked for this photograph!

My Murphy is definitely not the same cat today as he was when I brought him home nearly two years ago. He's a lot more chill and people centered.  He was great from the get-go, but looking back, I think that those first six months were a much bigger adjustment for him than I realized. No doubt, Jasper and Oliver have some adjusting yet to do. Stay tuned.......

Thursday, September 20, 2018


This lovable pair were found abandoned outside of an apartment complex. The good Samaritan who reported their whereabouts noticed that the cats had been hanging around the building and had reason to believe that their former guardian put them out before moving away. The caller fed the cats for a couple of days, but knew that a life outside was not a good option for the boys. The cats are best buds; we suspect that they are brothers -- see the resemblance? It's estimated that they are young adults, maybe a year or two. 

I'm a pushover for orange tabbies -- not sure if there is any scientific research to back my claim, but I am certain that  orange tabbies are more lovable than most cats. Even if it's not proven, some lucky adopter will get double the cuddles with these guys! Just look at the pics!
Thank you to the kind patron who noticed the cats and reported them to animal control. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Tufts Graduate Student Sets the Bar High for Future HRA Humane Education Interns!

I recently enjoyed  the benefit of having an intern for the entire summer. Carly, a graduate student in the Tufts University Animals and Public Policy program, was the fun adult during four weeks of summer camp. She played board games with the campers, created "thinking" exercises that focused on shelter populations and reuniting lost animals with their guardians, and researched and experimented with a laundry list of ice breakers and movement activities. She was the person to sit next to and chat with during camp lunch, too. In addition, Carly quickly established herself as my personal tech guru and was quick to pitch-in no matter what the task. 
Carly will receive her well-earned degree next week. Then, she will be job hunting, hoping to land a position in humane and/or enviromental education. Congratulations, Carly! 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Campers Are Heading Back to School!

 Sixty campers attended one of four Caring Kids Camps at the Humane Rescue Alliance during the summer. Campers created masterpieces in art camp, were introduced to  animal welfare careers,including veterinary medicine, event planning, lobbying, international campaigns, social media, and shelter work in careers camp. And, they met shelter animals, foster animals, dogs from rescue groups, and dogs with jobs (DCFDEMS/FEMA dog and Guiding Eyes for the Blind trainees and graduates) in advocacy camp. Registration for spring break and summer camp 2019 will begin in early February. 

Most District of Columbia students start school next week. Our humane education program consists of classroom programs (4th - 6th grades), shelter tours, book groups, special projects, and more. If you are a teacher, a parent, or student interested in including humane education in your school's programming, please contact me at dduel@humanerescuealliance.org.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Road Trip -- Part 2

Murphy is no fan of car travel. Even worse, Murphy hates trips to the vet. And, since Murphy typically hits the bodily function trifecta (poop, pee, puke) during road trips, he did not get breakfast before his 9:00 a.m. appointment with Dr. Hamilton. Needless to say, Murphy was not a happy camper. From the minute he popped out of his carrier, he was all claws! And muscle. And, that was before Dr. Hamilton looked into Murphy's irritated eye. Once the exam was over, and medicines were dispensed, he did a casual stroll into his carrier and settled in for a peaceful ride home -- and BREAKFAST!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Ready to Hit the Road -- Part One

Meet Flippy. He's waiting to choose the right person or family. He's currently interviewing prospective forever candidates in the main cat room in our Oglethorpe Street shelter. Look closely at the Flippy photo. He's happily riding shot gun as he travelled from our New York Avenue Shelter to Oglethorpe. It is not our custom to transport unsecured cats --  but Flippy chose to go carrier-less. Once on the road, he leisurely let himself out of the carrier and made himself comfortable in the passenger seat of the van. This guy is MR. PERSONALITY. He loves to eat, is a real people-pleaser, and would make the perfect travel companion. So, drive on over and meet fabulous Flippy today.

Monday, July 16, 2018


Like the All-Star break signifying the 1/2 way mark of the baseball season, this week represents the 1/2 way mark in the Humane Rescue Alliance's summer camp schedule. Careers, Working with Animals begins next week and Animals and Art starts August 6th. Below are photos from our earlier sessions -- All About Animals and Animal Advocates camps.

Dr. Woosley gives campers
 a crash course in veterinary medicine.
Team Work! 
Campers make tug toys for
shelter dogs!

Kodiak, a Kyra's Rescue Goodwill Ambassador
visits  with campers.
Hammy and George, beagles rescued from a laboratory,
wait patiently for a treat! They visited camp representing the
 Rescue + Freedom Project

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Rose Howard, a Protagonist to Root For

Rain ReignAnn M.Martin knows kids. Ann M. Martin knows dogs. And, Ann M. Martin can really tell a story. In her 2007, In A Dog's Life:Autobiography of a Stray, Squirrel, an abandoned pup, tells her tale of abuse, hunger, loneliness, and friendship. In her 2014 book, Rain Reign (Feiwel and Friends), Rose Howard, a fifth grader, straightforwardly informs the reader, "My official diagnosis is high-functioning autism, which some people call Asperger's syndrome (Do you have a diagnosis?)" 
Rose uses a whole dictionary of homophones (including her name, Rose, and her dog's Reign/rain) to tell  her story of  love,  loss. and perseverance. Rose is strong. Rose endures rabid teasing from classmates, frustration emanating from teachers, and rejection from her tormented father. Rose likes rules. Rose follows rules so much so that she is willing to give-up Rain, the one being who is always there for her. Rain helped to bridge the divide between Rose and her classmates, Rain waited every day when Rose got home from school, and Reign slept with Rose from that very first night. When Rain goes missing during the aftermath of a hurricane, Rose breaks from her routines and boldly goes beyond her comfort zone to find her dog. And that's when she discovers the truth, Rain belongs to the Henderson family. 
Grab a box of tissues, hug your dog, and cheer for Rose. Rain Reign is a winner. A great book to put on everyone’s summer reading list!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Young Animal Heroes Recognized for Their Good Deeds! Thank you Ge'Kyi and John 'Yae

"was fortunate enough to have some assistance from a few youths in field this evening with a very skittish, adorable small terrier. These guys found a small dog running-at-large on the grounds of their apartment complex and were able to slowly earn its trust to keep it in the area until I arrived.  Their patient efforts in bringing this pup to justice were invaluable!" wrote Animal Control Officer Ryan Jesien way back in March. Recently, I accompanied Officer Jesien to Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School where awards were presented to two of the five young animal heroes. We intend to recognize the other three helpers at their school next week. While the students were not looking for recognition, their efforts to help the frightened, lonely dog definitely deserve to be praised.  Thank you Ge'Kyi and John 'Yae!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

DC International Students Make a Plan, Execute it, and Help the Animals!

Awesome looking booth at local farmer's markets
HRA supporters hard at work
Gourmet treats!
Three D.C. International students, who I met in their classroom two years ago,  contacted me recently with a very well-thought out plan to help re-unite animals with their guardians. They wrote, Our idea is to raise money to get dogs or cats to get micro chipped so they don't get lost. The reason why we want to do this for our project and work with the humane society is because first, we all want to help animals as much as we can.  Second, we want to work with the humane society because you help animals for a living and we have already known each other from our past. After a fact-finding trip to HRA, they wrote to several local farmers' markets and asked for space to sell homemade dog biscuits to benefit their microchip initiative. Their first, very successful booth was held at Takoma on Sunday, April 22nd and, for those who missed the opportunity to purchase dog goodies at the market, catch Ana Isabel, Athziri and Anya at the Mount Pleasant Market, on Saturday, April 28thhttps://www.facebook.com/MtPFarMar/.    

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Caring Camper and Friend Raise Money for the Animals!

Spring break campers met dogs, cats, turtles, snakes, rabbits, and other animals. They made dog toys and cat shelters. They were introduced to survivors of animal cruelty, and helped to socialize a recent rescue who lacked confidence. They met a  volunteer from Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a Search and Rescue Team, and worked with a Humane Officer to solve an animal neglect case. And, they enjoyed a freestyle performance by several pairs from Greenbelt Dog Training.
One camper's family adopted a dog and another camper's family adopted a guinea pig! 

Lily and Ella visit the dogs who will benefit from their donation.
And, Lily returned to the Humane Rescue Alliance, a few days after camp, to bring a $78 donation. Lily, and her friend Ella, started a neighborhood dog-walking business more than a year ago.The young entrepreneurs and animal lovers decided to donate their profits to the Humane Rescue Alliance to help "dogs in need" . THANK YOU Lily and Ella!💗💗💗

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day! Love & Laughter with the Softies


Matt & Tara💗
When the Show Your Soft Side team came to Washington to take pics of one of their newest Softies, Washington Defensive End Matt Ioannidis, and his lovable pooch, Tara, Humane Law Enforcement Officer Stephon Daniels was there!
K-9 Captain, Christopher Holmes and his DC Fire/EMS and FEMA Urban Search and Rescue partner, Cazo, were photographed, too.
And, then there was Archie, the sweetest and smallest member of the Show Your Soft Side team.  So much fun!💗
For more information about the Show Your Soft Side campaign check out, https://showyoursoftside.org/.

Chris and Cazo💗
💗Stephon & Matt💗