Friday, March 20, 2020

Charlotte is Catching up on Her Reading and has a Surprise Recommendation

Charlotte has a book recommendation, My Big Dog by Janet Stevens and Susan Crummel. The title is somewhat deceiving. The story's narrator  Merl, a very independent and cantankerous cat, is much like Charlotte. 
Merl can only take so much -- those puppy noises, the chasing, the licking -- the dog is total ick! Merl is quick to point out the differences between the two. "I think it likes me. I think it wants to be my friend. NO WAY. I am a cat and it is a dog." In the end however, Merl sets down some very definite rules and acknowledges that he and the dog can definitely be friends. 
During these uncertain times, when all of the news can seem bad, there are many real life stories just like My Big Dog, where neighbors help neighbors, strangers show kindness to strangers, and people put their differences aside. My Big Dog is available in paperback from Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/My-Big-Dog-Golden-Classic/dp/0375851038/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=my+big+dog&qid=1584714206&sr=8-1

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Murphy Takes Over the Computer -- Again!

Murphy has once again taken over the computer! Perhaps he's attempting to be the next great Pinky Pye, a remarkable feline typist and extraordinary storyteller. Eleanor Estes' humorous and heartwarming Pye family books -- Ginger (Newberry Award Winner) and Pinky -- first published in the 1950s, and reissued many times since, are fun, family read-alouds as well as wonderful novels to singularly curl up with. While Murphy is plugging away, I'm going to find a yellow legal pad and pen to use for the time being. I have work to do -- I'm in the midst of planning four weeks of awesome summer camps with interesting speakers, animal visitors, and opportunities for kids to help HRA help the animals. Check out our website https://www.humanerescuealliance.org/kids-camps

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

No-Sew Blankets are Fun and Easy to Make AND Very Comfy for the Critters!

You wouldn't guess it from that,"pet me, I'm yours," look that Luther is giving, that he enjoys napping on the colorful, plush no-sew blankets a group of students made for him and the other cats temporarily residing at HRA. But he does. He especially likes to curl up on one of the blankets and knead his paws into the soft fleece. However, if a person is in close proximity, then Luther is eager to get up and give head bumps and love nudges. 

HRA is always in need of no-sew blankets for the cats and bigger ones for dogs, too. During these times when we are all sequestered in our homes, making a few no-sew blankets for the shelter animals could be a fun way to pass the time while helping the animals in HRA's care. 
Once the social distancing mandate is no longer in place then the blankets can be dropped off at either HRA shelter, 71 Oglethorpe Street, N.W. or 1201 New York Avenue, N.E. And, while you are cutting and knotting fleece squares into fancy beds, make an extra one for the dog or cat in your home or a friend's beloved critter.

Here is a simple directional video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQrkU9dN54s, created by a couple of animal-helping Girl Scouts.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Working from home has its pluses and minuses

I was going to write a really good blog post, but Murphy took over the computer.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Girl Scouts Focus on Helping HRA

Girl Scout Troop 34054, from Takoma Park, Maryland, recently visited HRA's Oglethorpe shelter bringing with them an assortment of gifts including homemade dog biscuits and catnip treats, a collection of  towels and blankets, and funds earned through Girl Scout cookie sales. The girls and their chaperones toured the shelter meeting some of the available animals who are, no doubt, now benefiting from the troop's generosity. Thank you Troop 34054!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Monday, November 25, 2019

Girl Scout Troop 42002 Raises Money for HRA in a Creative and Helpful Way for People and Animals!

Girl Scout troop 42002 recently raised $400 for the animals at HRA. They did it by hosting a bake sale and a CAR CARE CLINIC! This, I believe, is the first-ever CAR CARE CLINIC hosted in our honor. 
As someone who relies solely on the lights on my dashboard to tell me when to drive in for service, I was blown away by the photo of the girls adding windshield wiper fluid to the proper container under  a car's hood. I had to ask more about the event. 
I learned that one of the troop's  parents taught the girls how to:
- Open a car hood 
- Check for the car model’s recommended tire pressure.
- Check tire pressure and adjust if necessary. 
- Check and top off levels of oil, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid. 
And then, after the crash car care 101 course, it was totally up to the Brownies to complete the check and service. What a creative way to raise money for the animals and provide a terrific service for car owners, especially now that the weather is getting cooler. My tire pressure light recently started blinking and I did what I always do, I drove to the gas station and paid $5 for someone to put air in the tire. When these young animal lovers become drivers, they won't have to ask anyone to put air in their tires -- they will do it themselves. Thank you Troop 42002 for supporting HRA.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

We Are Thankful For Students Who Go Above And Beyond To Help HRA Help The Animals!

Micah stands before some of the
donations that he collected through
reaching out to friends and family.
Sadie offers one of her home baked
gourmet Salmon treats to Hugo.
HRA often gets calls and emails from students interested in helping the animals. While they may be disappointed when they learn that they are too young to volunteer in the shelter, they remain committed to helping the animals. During this week, before Thanksgiving, we are thankful that Micah and Sadie's dedicated efforts to make the world a better place for animals resulted in lots of extras for the animals at HRA.
Treats by Sadie
Micah appealed to family and friends through emails and phone calls directing them to his own HRA Amazon wish list. The effort netted two carloads full of supplies ranging from fun cat and dog toys, treats, and a variety of food, to the less glamorous but equally needed items like sharpies and paper towels. Micah made sure to thank all of his donors with personalized notes expressing his gratitude for their support in helping him help the animals. It truly does take a village!
Sadie created her donation in the kitchen. She used several different cat and dog treat recipes to bake dozens and dozens of biscuits. 
Both students delivered their donations to the shelter and visited with the many tail-waggiing and purring recipients of their donations. Thank you Micah and Sadie for helping to make the animals' stay at HRA a more comfortable one.

Monday, November 11, 2019

HRA Adoption Leads to Advocacy for All Shelter Animals

Pearl helped to raise awareness and money for the animals as part of her upcoming bat mitzvah project. Pearl's initial dog biscuit booth at the Van Ness Farmers' market netted  $50 for HRA. Most generous shoppers paid more than the suggested $3 per bag, which contained two home-made biscuits. Pearl's efforts were inspired by the recent adoption of her very cute HRA dog, Phoebe. She even recruited her friend Mable to help with the marketing. Mabel is a recent alumnus of Caring Kids Camp at HRA. Thanks, Pearl. Surely, Phoebe, too, was a big help in the test kitchen!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Guest Columnists Acquaint Readers With a Quick Small Animal Care Guide

By  Stefanie Severin, HRA Junior Volunteer and Jess Anderson, Adoptions Outreach Coordinator

Have you ever thought about what it might be like to be a classroom pet? Envisioned yourself in a teeny tiny body, surrounded by lots of children? While it can be a positive experience to take care of an animal, and while some people don’t quite feel ready for a cat or a dog, it’s important to remember that nourishing another creature, no matter how small, requires careful research beforehand regarding appropriate enrichment and housing – while some enclosures might be cute or perfect for sitting on a desk, nobody would like to be stuck in the same tiny cage every, or swim around in a dull and too-small fish bowl! Before welcoming one of the following types of pets into your classroom or home, keep in mind some of these important facts.
Guinea Pigs
These guys can be super social – at HRA, we’ll adopt two for the price of one! - remember that the recommended living space for 1 guinea pig is a minimum of 7.5 square feet. The recommended diet includes hay and a limited amount of fresh vegetables and fruit.
Fun Facts: A Guinea pig can run from when they’re 3 hours old and they can be litterbox trained!
The recommended living space for one turtle is a 30 to 55 gallon tank for turtles 8 inches and under, and a 75 to 125 gallon tank for turtles larger than 8 inches. The recommended diet for a turtle includes live insects, snails, small fish, worms, in addition to plant matter like dandelion leaves and lettuce.
Fun Fact: There are over 50 bones in the shell of a turtle. Small children should be careful – if improperly handled, turtles can secrete a bacteria called salmonella, which can make people sick!
The recommended living space for a hamster is a wire cage or aquarium at least 24 x 12 inches, and at least 12 inches tall. The recommended diet includes seeds, grains, and dried or fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fun Fact: A hamster’s teeth grow continuously, so they need something to gnaw on to wear down their teeth. They also LOVE space and exercise!
Betta Fish
The recommended living space for betta fish is a tank about 2.5 gallons in size at the least - so no, they shouldn’t live in small fish bowls! Betta fish are omnivores, so their diet should be protein-rich, with occasionally some fiber and fruits or vegetables.
Fun Fact: Betta fish actually prefer to live in warm water at a pH of 6.5-7. They can even learn to do tricks, and can survive out of water for short periods of time (not recommended, though!).

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!