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RED is for RESCUED!

I am thrilled to announce that my new campaign called “RED is for RESCUED” (Red4Rescued for short) has finally hit the streets and is reaching out to the rescue community!

Red4Rescued‘s purpose is to raise the general public’s awareness of rescued animals, and hopefully draw attention to the remaining six million homeless animals that are waiting every day to be loved. We’re asking “owners” (caretakers) of rescued pets to tie a red ribbon to their pet’s collar or leash, which will be visible to the public.   We want everyone to see just how many rescues there are already out there, and just how wonderful they are.   Unfortunately, there is still often a belief by some that if an animal was brought to a shelter or rescue, there must be something wrong with them. We all know that’s not true, but we also want to prove it. So the more red ribbons people see floating around on the streets, attached to already rescued animals, the more they will understand that rescued animals are wonderful and we are all part of an elite and proud club!   And there’s only one way to become a member!

With so many already homeless animals in the population, and more every day, it is time to STOP BREEDING and BUYING pets! I sincerely believe though that not enough people truly understand, or are even at all aware, of the severity and expanse of the situation. We’re hoping that the red ribbons will not only be a visual validation, but that it will be a conversation starter. That if someone tells you they’ve seen these red ribbons on a lot of pets, and asks you what the ribbon is for, you can tell them that it’s a way of letting people know that your wonderful pet was rescued and that there are over six million more (a low estimate, and just a little bit less than the entire human population of Missouri) waiting for homes. You can let them know, in your own way, that it is no longer cool (or acceptable) to be buying or breeding animals, that it’s about “snob appeal” and that’s also NOT cool, but what IS cool is helping an animal and becoming part of the solution instead of adding to the problem. You can tell them that every time another animal is born or bought, and animal that already needs a home will sit in a crate for who knows how much longer.   You can tell them that if the animals are in a city shelter they’re on death row and will more than likely, eventually, be walked to the “kill room”. And tell them that if they are buying puppies, whether from a breeder or a pet shop, the mother is most likely being used merely as a breeding machine with no regard by the OWNER to anything but money, and in many cases the breeding male and female are abused and highly neglected. You can tell them that there are also thousands of “backyard breeders”, as they are called, who tear the puppies away from their mothers and their litter at not more than a week or so old, just to turn a quick profit. It is a form of abuse to remove an animal from its mother before a minimum of six to 8 weeks. Animals removed before that often end up with behavioral issues which often cause them then to be neglected, abused and abandoned by the same humans who bought them.

Our rescued pets and homeless animals can’t speak for themselves, so we’re hoping that red ribbons and you will help speak for them. Of course you can use any red ribbon, but if you would like the official “Red is for Rescued!” imprinted ribbon and the accompanying logo card as seen here,  you can go to www.Red4Rescued.com and fill out a contact form. We can work out the details by phone, for now. Every item on the site including the ribbons, cards, t-shirts, hoodies, iron-on transfers and car magnets (some not yet pictured on the site but I’m working on it) will be sold at my cost plus postage. This is not a money making venture, and any dollars received will be returned to the campaign to further the cause and help homeless animals. I’m looking forward to the day when there is a sea of red ribbons attached to rescued animals all over the country!

So go to the website to order, or put any red ribbon on your rescued pet and spread the word.   Either way, please, TIE ONE ON FOR HOMELESS ANIMALS! Woo-hoo!

red-for-rescued-001

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5 Ways Thieves Could Steal Your Dog

There has been such a proliferation of stolen dogs lately that I thought it important to include an article about prevention.  Everywhere I go now I see heartbreaking fliers and posters made by people searching for their lost pets.  Although it’s true that some of them may actually have wandered off somehow, the fact that most of them seem to be small, pedigreed dogs makes me think that there is more going on.  Small pedigreed dogs bring a hefty price in the market, and it is a very LARGE market.  As noted in the article, there is also money to be made by selling animals to research labs, but the article doesn’t mention that there is also a market for cats.  Where your pet is concerned, like your children, be safe rather than sorry.  Have a look at this article from Care2 to learn how thieves work and how to keep them away from your pet:

http://www.care2.com/causes/5-ways-thieves-could-steal-your-dog.html

RESCUE TALES: UNSINKABLE SKYLAR

Unsinkable Skylar

Reprinted from:
The Latest Mews!
August 23, 2016

People are good. The gray and white cat at the bottom of the dumpster never stopped believing that. Not when someone left him there in the trash, knowing he was too weak to jump out again. Not when they threw his meager possessions – a soiled bed and some cracked dishes – into the garbage with him. Not even when he grew hoarse and exhausted as he cried for help and the hours passed until he couldn’t call out anymore.

It was mid-morning on that late spring day when one of Neighborhood Cats’ staff drove up to the dumpster. She’d been feeding a feral colony behind a nearby supermarket and had a stack of paper dishes to discard. She leaned over the side, ready to toss the plates in – and froze. A pair of yellow eyes was looking back at her. In the instant before she could react she took in the telltale signs of long neglect: the filth matting the eyes, nose and coat, the barely concealed ribs, the pathetic, threadbare bed. In the still air she could hear the rattle of labored breathing.

The cat moved first. With an effort, he pushed himself to his feet and took a step forward. Then another. It didn’t matter that he was tired and sick. His yellow eyes were clear and calm and there in the trash in the parking lot, the battered cat had no doubt he was walking into the arms of a friend.

We spent weeks helping Skylar get well. He needed treatment for a severe respiratory infection and anemia. At one year old and four-and-a-half pounds, he was critically underweight and so his days were peppered with small meals and treats, fitted between naps.  As Skylar grew stronger he slept less and ate more and his personality began to sparkle. We learned he likes asparagus (just the tips), loves other cats and enjoys riding around on shoulders. Catnip toys don’t impress him much but feather wands do. He can unwind a whole roll of paper towels in less than a minute.

Skylar’s unsinkable spirit didn’t go unnoticed. His big heart captivated our friend Andy, founder of the rescue group Not Lost in Jersey City. One day last month Andy took Skylar home. Today, bursting with good health and good intentions, Skylar is always ready to lend a helping paw when Andy sits down to work. “He’ll climb on my shoulder, stand on the keyboard… whatever it takes,” Andy said with a smile. “I don’t know how I ever managed without him.”

Won’t you help us save more cats in need like Skylar? Your gift will make this possible.

Footnote from Kathy:  Neighborhood Cats is a wonderful organization that taught me and thousands of others the art of “TNR” or Trap, Neuter, Return.  TNR finds and traps abandoned and feral cats living on the streets.  After the cats are trapped by any of the thousands of TNR Certified volunteers, they are brought to various facilities to be spayed or neutered, allowed a few days of rest and healing, and then returned to their original spots.  Often, if cats are friendly enough, Neighborhood Cats finds new GOOD homes for them.  Any cats that are found are cared for for the rest of their days.  If you know of some homeless cats living without true homes, please look into TNR certification through Neighborhood Cats (it’s one inexpensive class).  It will allow you access to traps, onsite shelters and a library of information, as well as a network of other volunteers.  In addition, TNR of course decreases the population of homeless cats by preventing them from any further reproduction.  Like they say, if you’re feeding cats but not spay/neutering cats, you are BREEDING cats.  Please also consider making a donation to Neighborhood Cats.  Even a small amount is greatly appreciated, and greatly needed.  Thanks!

AND THEN THERE WAS TOBY…

If you haven’t already figured it out, this is entire blog is not a feel good, walk in the sunshine kind of blog.  There are many wonderful blogs like that, many of them having to do with the bright side of the lives of animals, and I encourage you to find them.  For me though,  the point of this whole thing is to bring attention to the other animals, the ones whose lives have been less than ideal at best, and living horror stories at worst.  Every time I write a piece, I pray that the right people will see it.  Not the ones who already love and appreciate animals, but the ones who don’t “get it”.  The ones who still believe that animals are just property, and say things like “it’s just a dog”.  And especially the ones with the hardened hearts who don’t think twice about hurting an animal.  I pray that their hearts will be opened and made soft, and that their minds will be filled with the knowledge and awareness of the joy of animals, and feel love and respect for them.  I pray that something will “click” for them, that they will be filled with understanding and become warriors and voices for the animals.

Toby died today because one of those people with the hardened hearts abused him irreparably.  Toby was a sweet, little 10 pound Yorkie who had nothing but love in his heart.  He was taken in as a foster by my friend because he needed a place to heal and be quiet.  He had multiple fractures in his leg and pelvis.  He was infested with fleas, and encrusted in his own feces.  The SPCA won’t release the names of the abusers of course, so we have no way of knowing the whole story, but they were trying to give Toby a chance at a good life.  They were hoping that time would heal all wounds.  So was my friend.  So was I.

Unfortunately the wounds wouldn’t heal.  After about two months in a cast, with rest, and good nutrition, and a lot of love, it just wouldn’t work.    At first they believed that his leg might have to be amputated, but as long as the pelvic fractures healed he could survive quite well on three legs.  But none of the fractures would heal.  X-ray after x-ray showed little to no progress.  No one really can explain why his fractures wouldn’t heal, but it got to the point that they were affecting his spinal column and causing him pain.  They finally determined that his condition would only deteriorate further, to the point of excruciating pain, and that no amount of surgery or medicine would change it.  So while he was already sedated today for his x-rays and to possibly have his cast changed, the decision was made to put him the rest of the way to sleep.

I wasn’t going to write about it.  It was just so sad, and I was tired of being sad, and worried about being too sad in this blog.  My friend was heartbroken.  There had been so much hope for Toby finally having a good life, but now all  hope was lost.  Another little life was lost, and the more I thought about it the more angry I became.  I became so angry that it made me sob.  I seethed at the notion that this sweet little boy, who never did anything to anyone, ended up with some effing piece of crap who broke his little body, not even just a little but to the point of no repair.  Why?  WHY?!  Why would anyone do that to a dear, sweet little boy?!

I mean really, I want to talk to this person, to these people.  I want to ask them, “WHAT IS YOUR EFFING PROBLEM?”  Did your mommy not love you enough?  Was your daddy not proud of you?  Did the kids in school make fun of you?  Were mommy or daddy drug addicts or alcoholics?  Were you beaten as a child?  Were you sexually abused?  Well wah, wah, wah – WHO CARES?!  Do you really think there is ANYTHING that could justify harming an innocent, defenseless little life?  Do you think it is justified because YOU were hurt when YOU were an innocent, defenseless little life?  Did you not see him cowering in the corner when you were on your rampage?  Did you not see the fear in his eyes and his trembling body?  And if you saw it, how could you not RELATE to it?  What is the switch that makes you harm this little ball of gentleness and sweetness, rather than protect him?  YOU’RE A COWARD!  You, and the others like you, are big effing cowards!  You are cowards because you pick on something so defenseless, who doesn’t even know what he did wrong, who probably didn’t even do anything wrong.  If you have so much anger baby, if you think you have a right to be angry, then bring it out in the open!  Bring it out into the light of day and take your chances with other HUMANS, with humans that at least have a chance of fighting back and BEATING THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF YOU!  I wouldn’t mind five minutes to have at you myself, you piece of crap, waste of life!  You don’t deserve to breathe the same air as the dear animals that you hurt!  You’ll never be as worthy as them and you should spend every day of the rest of your life praying for forgiveness and trying to make up for the harm you’ve done!  You could have gone through your entire life without EVER hurting an animal, but you CHOSE a different path.  Again, I ask you, “WHAT IS YOUR EFFING PROBLEM?!”  Give me five minutes to inflict the same pain on you that you inflict on animals!

Toby, at least, had a few months where he knew love, and safety, and peace.  My friend did everything she could for him.  She loved him, fed him, cleaned him, cared for him, played with him and prayed for him.  She fought for him and hung in there with him.  She even rode him around in a shopping cart, just to give him some time outdoors without having to walk.  The hardest part was that she held out hope for him.  This ending was never imagined, never even a consideration.  The worst anyone expected was the amputation.  Hard to believe but at this point, amputation would have been a desired outcome.  In a way Toby was one of the lucky ones, because they FOUND him.  There are so many out there who are suffering alone and unknown.  Pray that they are found and protected.

Toby’s suffering has fueled my fire, and I hope it will put a fire in you too.  Let’s make sure that Toby and the others like him don’t die in vain.  Don’t be afraid to be a voice for them.  They can’t speak for themselves so we’re all they’ve got.  Stand up for them, raise awareness, teach empathy and call people out who aren’t living up to a high enough standard where animals are concerned.  Don’t think it’s not your business.  IT IS!  It’s EVERYONE’s business!  And please, please, PLEASE teach children to care for animals.  Maybe their parents don’t even get it, but the kids do if someone brings it to them.  Fight to have laws changed, protest, write letters, wear t-shirts, put magnets on your cars that help animals, raise awareness, make other people “animal conscious”, don’t buy from pet shops, don’t buy animals period, volunteer for an animal rescue, foster rescued animals, read up on the plight of animals and how to help them, don’t close  your eyes or your ears to it.  Do whatever you can in your own way to be a voice for them because they really are counting on us.  Just do anything.  Please.

Toby.Cecelia Toby.Cecelia II

PLEASE SIGN TO STOP THIS AUCTION!

Remember the guy who owned the pet shop in New Jersey and left all those poor puppies shivering in a van overnight?  Now he wants to profit from them again and auction off over 400 of them.  Turns out, the guy (actually two brothers) also owns a puppy mill in Missouri.  No surprise, right?  Anyhow, this petition is to put a halt to the auction and keep these guys from further profiting at the expense of the poor dogs.  If  you would be so kind as to sign it, and forward it to as many people as possible, perhaps we can really put these guys out of business and save a lot of animals.  Thanks!  Here’s the link:

https://www.change.org/p/steven-shatkin-njspca-stop-the-auction-and-dispersal-of-just-pups-400-dogs-in-missouri?recruiter=500773994&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=des-lg-no_src-no_msg&recuruit_context=fb_share_mention_control

LOSING SHAKESPEARE

On Friday morning, I lost a dear friend. His name was Shakespeare, and he passed away at the ripe old age of 17. Shakespeare of course was a dog, a Yorkie, and he was raised as a third child by my dear friends, Vicki and Joe. Although he was not my dog, he and I had a very long and special relationship. Shakespeare had a very small circle of friends and an even smaller circle of people he would “tolerate”, and I was honored to be included in both circles.   He knew me by name. When I was expected for a visit, Vicki would tell him ahead of time that I was coming. Shakespeare would get very excited when he heard, and would eventually settle down to sit by the glass front door to watch for me. As I walked up to the house, the first thing I would see was his little face in the door. The closer I got to the door, the more excited he got. As you can imagine, when I finally got in the door it was sheer bedlam! Then I would scream, “Give me kisses!”, and Shakespeare would run up their center staircase just high enough to be at face level with me. I would put my head against the spindles on the staircase and Shakespeare would proceed to lick any part of my face that he could reach. It was our thing. If it was his thing with anyone else, I will never admit to it. It was OUR thing. We had a “we”, and our we was special.

All of this got me to thinking about what we all go through when we lose pets, those of us that actually care anyhow.   As we know, there are some that don’t.   Last night I went to Vicki and Joe’s house to grieve with them and share our memories of the little one. One of the things that Vicki repeated over and over was that the day Shakespeare died was “the worst day of her life”.   I totally understand that. My heart of hearts was a dog named Tiffany, who passed away in 1995 after fourteen years. I’ve never gotten over her loss, can still cry over her and look forward to the day when I see her again. Eighteen years later when I finally brought another dog home (although there were many cats in between) it was with Tiffany in mind. Clancy and she look extremely alike, right down to a little pink spot on the tips of their respective noses. Since Tiffany passed in 1995 I’ve lost basically every family member; Father, Mother, Brother and a dear Uncle. But I will still say that the day I lost Tiffany was the worst day of my life. Not to take anything away from the loss of my family members, but it’s different when you lose someone that you were responsible for. It’s a different sort of bond and it leaves a different sort of hole in your life.   And for me, I’m just one of those people who is better with animals than I am with other people. I always feel more connected to animals than to humans, so when I lose one I am inconsolable.

So now there is the healing and the aftermath.   My friends say they will never bring home another dog, which is sad because they are the kind of people that we all want to see have dogs. They are the good people, the counter-balance to all the bad people that have pets, the ones we thank God for when we see how their pets are taken care of and loved. Dogs deserve them. Maybe someday their hearts will heal enough to allow them to change their minds. Just like when a relationship ends, we often learn to love again, even when we thought it would be impossible. For my friends’ sake, and for the sake of all the dogs out there that deserve their love, I hope so.

But my friends are also in a gray area now that I believe to be imposed by society. There is a somewhat Victorian notion which seems to preach that there is a certain window of time which must be endured before we consider getting another pet, or even getting into another relationship. They talk about “respect”, and it being “disrespectful” to the one who has passed if we don’t wait a certain, arbitrarily decided upon period of time to bring another pet home or as humans, to love again or just stop crying. Like we are bad people if we accept death as a part of life, or choose to love again and, heaven forbid, be HAPPY! But I really have to question the whole philosophy. First of all, WHO DECIDED?! Who made up those rules? Who decided what the proper period of time is, for EVERYONE?! Who says that by choosing to love again we are diminishing the character or the memory of the one who has passed? I don’t see it that way at all. The way I see it, we are HONORING the one who has passed. What we are saying in effect is that the hole, the void left behind by their loss is so great as to be unbearable. That it aches to be filled. As the saying goes, “Nature abhors a vacuum”, so why would it not be natural for our HUMAN nature to want to fill the void, especially where love is concerned, the best and most natural quality of our humanness? Why would we not want to spread as much love as possible, as often as possible? How is that an insult to the one who has passed?

I don’t love Tiffany any less today than I did when she died 21 years ago. Since she died I’ve had nine cats at various times (there are six now) and my two present dogs. I don’t love Tiffany any less because of any of any of the others. Tiffany taught me more about love than any other being I’ve ever met.   Isn’t it a good thing that I’ve gone on to use what I learned from her to care for other animals? Every one of my pets, and a lot of people, have benefited from the lessons in love I learned from Tiffany. Not long after Tiffany passed, a cat wandered into my yard and my life. His name was Chessie. Rumor had it that the people whose home he used to live in got a dog and put Chessie out onto the streets. Maybe Chessie just left. Either way, I vowed that I would never get a dog as long as Chessie was with me because I never wanted him to fear being abandoned or feel that there was no longer a place for him with me. Chessie passed in 2012, after fighting feline leukemia for two years.   At that point, there were four other cats coming into my yard to be fed, one of which kept trying to come into the house but wasn’t allowed because of Chessie’s age and illness. The day Chessie passed I opened the door for Bandit and told him to “Come on in”. About a week later, I brought Bandit to a relatively new vet, but the one who had put Chessie to sleep when the time came. When I walked in with Bandit she said, “Miss Fitzgerald, you did not even give yourself a chance to grieve?” Excuse me? Are you implying that I’m NOT grieving? That just because I have another patient for you, that I didn’t/don’t love the one I lost?   That it was inappropriate for me to have taken in another cat at this point, a cat that was hungry and homeless?   I never said any of that to her, but I never went back to her either. Bandit is still here.

People feel like they aren’t entitled, or have to feel guilty, if they want to feel better again. I say, SPREAD THE LOVE! Your loved ones that have passed understand now that it was all about the love. I think they would want us to use what we have learned from them to benefit another.   My belief is that they are happy now, whether human or animal. I think they are happier now than they ever were in life, and that our grief weighs them down like a balloon tied to a rock. I believe that they will never be completely free until we let go of them, that love isn’t about holding on to them because love is not selfish. Like I told my friend, “Losing a pet is like when you raise children. You raise them knowing that someday you’re going to have to let them go, but knowing that they will take all your love with them”. It’s all we’ve got to go on.

So last night my friends and I cried about Shakespeare, and we laughed about Shakespeare. There was no little face in the door for me anymore, no one running up the stairs to slather me with kisses. His little bed under the end of the coffee table was noticeably gone.   The house was quiet and the emptiness was palpable. This is what my poor friends are having to endure right now. But they are also the most loving and fun seeking people that I know, so I’m sure they will come through and continue to love and laugh.   We already started; We laughed last night about Shakespeare and some of his antics. We laughed about the fact that no matter how many blotches I had on my face, or how much I was sneezing because I was in fact allergic to Shakespeare’s saliva, I still would let him kiss me until the cows came home! We laughed at how selective he was about people and who he allowed to be a friend. We laughed at how his attitude toward me changed the time I brought a boyfriend to their house and he let me know he was NOT happy about it! The boyfriend didn’t last, and Vicki says that Shakespeare eventually forgave me, but I’m not really sure he did.

When I told another friend of mine today that Shakespeare had passed, and that I was in the middle of writing a blog piece about him, she wished me well and said, “I hope it comes to you easily”.   I texted back that it actually was coming easily because, after all, Shakespeare was my muse!

Rest in peace my little friend. Thank you for brightening all of our lives. Thank you for the love. Give Tiffany a kiss for me and know that we will all be together again some day. Much love, now and always.

Shakespeare kisses

PLANT HAZARDS

Little Bella seems to be having some issues which aren’t responding to antibiotics.  I started looking online for plants or weeds in my yard that she might be eating (because she tries to eat EVERYTHING) that could be causing her problems.  The list is over 700 species long, but there is one that seems to be the worst and that is Foxtail Grass.  This grass isn’t as bad for its toxicity as for the fact that the seeds are barbed, much like a fish hook, and if ingested can become embedded in an animal’s internal organs.  Foxtail is VERY common.  I have it in my yard and never thought much of it, but I will definitely be taking measures to get rid of it now.  Keep in mind that even if your pet isn’t a plant eater,  Foxtail can lodge in their paws or fur and be ingested by your pet if they try to remove it with their mouths.  Here are two photos to help you identify this plant:

Foxtail-Grass-Can-Kill-Your-Dogs-fbFoxtail close up