Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An Animal Tale and a Young Girl's Journey

Snow days are enjoyed best with a good book  and a cat on your lap. Today, I enjoyed both .  Merl kept me warm as a read Angela Cervantes new novel, Gaby, Lost and Found (Scholastic 2013) from cover to cover.  Merl even moved up a little on my chest as I sniffed and dabbed my eyes at certain parts of the fast-moving novel.   This book, however, is not a tearjerker from cover to cover -- it's insightful, funny, hopeful, and at times, sad.  Gaby Ramirez Howard, the strong Latina protagonist, volunteers as  the adoption advertisement "scribe" for the Furry Friends Animal Shelter. Her involvement starts as just a 6th grade service project, but becomes much more.   The cast-off animals, through no fault of their own, are looking for their forever homes, and before long Gaby realizes that she is too.   At the shelter Gaby meets animals that are abused, neglected and abandoned.  The young cute ones are adopters'  favorites.  Cervantes must have real life animal shelter experience, because she paints an accurate  picture of the common throw-away society that shelter staff see every day.   Her depiction of life as an illegal immigrant is probably right-on-the-mark too.  When the story opens we learn that Gaby's mother was deported 3 months earlier; Gaby is eagerly awaiting her mother's return -- any day now she thinks.   Life is rarely that simple.  The  book's supporting cast, Alma, Marcos, Enrique, Dr. Vilalabos (super-cool, tattooed veterinarian), Mr . and Mrs. Gomez, and the assorted shelter animals, add spirit and life to the  220 page book that hooks the reader from  Gaby's very first encounter with an ornery Siamese cat on page one, to the last page that unites Gaby with an abandoned tabby cat.  Add this book to your library, give it as a gift, read it more than once.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

One Happy Kitty!

Meet Jubilee.   Not only is she adorable and very sweet, but she is SO HAPPY to be living in Kitty City at the Washington Animal Rescue League.  For months, we saw the petite female cat running in the alley behind the shelter.  Guys s in a neighboring garage said that they were feeding her.  They also said that they let her in the garage.  But, on the night that the arctic air gripped  the area, I'm certain that she hunkered down somewhere outside.  She was sitting on top of a car when I got to the League the next morning.  And, although she tended to allude human touch for some time, she let me pet her -- a lot.  And then, she walked right into a cat carrier that Lauren set in front of her.   A can of food was n the bac kof the carrier to lure her in, but she didn't care much about the food on  that very cold morning.   Closing the carrier quickly we brought her inside.  Our assumption was that she was feral.  She not only is not feral, but she as lovable as she can be. Jubilee has been spayed, vaccinated, thoroughly checked out, and is waiting patiently for a forever home.   In  the meantime she is relishing her regular meals and her cozy hiding post inside her very own heated condo! Welcome to WARL, Jubilee

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cat on the Table

According to weather.com it is currently 13 degrees and feels like negative 2.   That's cold.  Like everyone in much of the U.S. this morning, I was freezing while running the short distance from my home to the car, despite wearing lots of layers under my heavy coat.  Nigel, with just his every day black Labrador retriever coat, seemed invigorated by the frigid air.  Even so, we were not about to stay outside for more than a minute.  The drastically low temperatures are not safe for us or our animal companions.   If you see an animal outside in the cold, report it immediately to the local animal control or welfare agency. 
In the District of Columbia (202) 576-6664 
In Montgomery County, Maryland (240) 773-5960
In Prince Georges' County, Maryland  (301) 780-7201
In Fairfax County, Virginia 703-691-2131
If you see a person outside in the cold  needing immediate help, please call the Hypothermia Hotline at 1 (800) 535-7252.  No one should be in these record-breaking arctic temperatures for long.

So, why the picture of Buzz (formerly Billy Elliot) sitting regally on the dining room table in his forever home?  I was combing through recent adoption photos and this picture just leaped out at me.  Nothing better on a cold day than enjoying the company of an animal companion in a warm home. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Life Cut Short

Hachi, the beloved companion of Javier and Dana died right before Christmas.   I've been thinking a lot about what I could write  to honor the mild-mannered dog who barely survived life in a horribly overcrowded hoarding situation in Ohio.  I could recount how, after his rescue, he was shut down and depressed while  WARL staff and volunteers tried to lure him out of his deep funk.  But why dwell on the horror.  His last two years were spent in total bliss.   He was doted on, loved unconditionally, and freed from his past the minute Javi saw the pretty blond Akita mix, formerly known as Encore. "That's Hachi," Javi told his mom.  And, so he was.  I've  written about Hachi before -- when Javi made Hachi the star of his Old Yeller video book report and when Hachi moved with Dana and Javi to China in August  2012.  While some people use moving as an excuse to get rid of an animal, Dana wrote, "Hachi is off on a new adventure. I'm worried about the stress of the trip, I've gotten us a direct flight from Washington to Beijing, and Hachi will fly on the same flight. After a 7-day mandatory quarantine, he'll be ready to come to his new home."

My heart aches for Javi and Dana. Dana wrote,  Despite a successful fight against the lymphoma, yesterday we discovered a malignant tumor in his mouth that seemed to have affected his bones. As of this morning, he couldn't walk or stand on his own. We had no choice. We spent the day by his side. We were fortunate to find a wonderful doctor who came to our home. He was in his bed and our arms until the end. Only a couple of hours before, he found some energy to play with his toy and smile for us (see attached). Even during his own suffering, he was more worried about us and making us happy. We are grieving and heartbroken, but thankful for the love we shared. Thank you so much WARL for rescuing him. We thought we would have more than two years with him, but are so grateful for what we had.

I am  grateful to Dana and Javi for giving a very deserving dog a wonderful life, albeit much too short.    I am at a loss for words.