Thursday, January 28, 2010


I heard on the radio this morning that the Fairfax County, Virginia USAR (Urban Search & Rescue) unit is home from Haiti. Gone 15 days and reportedly recovered 16 survivors in the rubble! Welcome back Chris and Cazo.

More good news. It looks like my current favorite kitty, Casius Clay, may be going to his forever home very soon; someone, with another older cat, is very interested in adopting him!! I hope they have a tall perch -- CC loves to hang out on the very top of the kitty playground in the cat room at the League. Have a good life, buddy.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Horrors in Haiti

The destruction caused by the earthquake that slammed Haiti earlier in the week is beyond belief. Even as the pictures flash on television and computer screens, it is hard to imagine living through such a nightmare -- yet, among the death and ruins there are survivors. Sgt. Christopher Holmes and his K-9 partner, Cazo -- a German shepherd, are two of the rescue workers searching for people trapped inside the rubble. Chris and Cazo are part of the DC Fire/EMS Department's Urban Search and Rescue K-9 Unit. The day before the earthquake, the pair, along with Fire/Arson Investigator Rodney Taylor and his K-9 partner, Dozen -- a black Labrador retriever, were visiting students at Takoma Education Center talking about their jobs. Chris told the students how much he loves his job, and how he never knows when he and Cazo will be called to help. Little did he know that just 24 hours later disaster would strike and they would be on their way to Haiti.
Chris and Cazo are looking for people among the devestation. Cazo is trained to find survivors. He understands more than 40 words in German. Chris uses those words to instruct Cazo when they are working. When they aren't working it's play time, family time and just everyday down time. Neither of them will get any down time in the immediate future.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Favorite Dog Update

The Washington Animal Rescue League places scores of dogs and cats in wonderful homes. Sometimes we hear back from their forever homes; sometimes we don't. It's always fun to learn what a certain cat or dog is up to-- what the adopters enjoys about their new friends, what silly things they like to share, as well as the tender moments that warm your heart.

Our training department gets updates about adopted dogs regularly. Quite honestly, I don't remember all of the dogs whose new people send in updates. But a recent email and photo caught my attention immediately. It was from Junie's new person, Erin. She reported that Junie is very sweet and loves her tennis balls and food. I remember Junie and those tennis balls. She had one in her mouth all of the time. Junie was one of those dogs who came in who made me think, "If only I had room for one more...." I'm sure that Nigel and Junie would have gotten along splendidly. However, my schedule and space allows for only one dog. So, Nigel must be content with his dog buddies in the neighborhood and Merl, the only cat of our three, who absolutely adores Nigel. Getting Erin's email reminded me though that Junie was one of those few dogs who I thought, "if only." I was very happy to see the picture of her with her tennis ball. Erin sent another photo of Junie on the bed. Those pictures and Erin's update made me think, "If only they all could get a good home like Junie."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Don't Forget the Birds

I don't have a bird feeder. I did years ago, but I attracted just as many mice as birds, so I gave up feeding the birds. But, the recent snow and the on-going cold made me think about the birds. Can they find enough food to eat? If I feed them today, do I need to feed them all winter long? Since I didn't know the answer to either question, I asked Jim Monsma, the League's resident bird expert.

Here's what he said.

It is fine to feed animals now and then. They eat what they can find, when they can find it. You could leave them in a bad situation if you fed them regularly and then cut them off suddenly.

More important is what you feed them – no bread, for instance – and keeping feeders clean, which many people fail to do. That’s why we have the outbreak of the eye disease among house finches, for instance. This was news to me, when I was growing up we always put out bread crusts for the birds.

Other important considerations --
Keep bird feeders no more than 3 feet from nearby windows (collisions with glass kill more birds than any other single factor with estimates that, on average, every single structure in the country kills 3 birds/year – think about that for a minute).

Keep cats indoors. I can do that!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

HAPPY 2010!!!

It feels like we've been celebrating this holiday season in the north pole. And, while this might be great weather for penguins and polar bears, cats and dogs need a little extra attention. Their bodies are not primed for day after day of freezing temperatures. Dogs and cats should not be left outside.
Some animals like the cold. Nigel really enjoys his walks in the cold. But, they are just that -- 10 minute walks, not life on the ice floes. After the brisk walk it's back inside the house with the thermostat set to 68 degrees (not exactly warm, but comfortable, and the lower temperature helps to save energy). And, Nigel's buddies Micky, Merl and Bruce are inside always -- cats do not enjoy the cold and are NEVER safe outside.
Please, Please, Please report animals left outside to the proper agencies. Sometimes just telling an unknowing neighbor that his cat or dog would be a lot happy, safer and WARMER will do the trick. Believe it or not, there are folks who say, "but he's wearing a fur coat." I may not have fur, but when I go outside bundled up from head to toe, I still get cold and don't want to stay outside for very long. How different is that than my short-haired dog who goes outside barefoot?
New Year's resolution number one -- help keep animals warm and safe this winter.