Monthly Archives: June 2016

Tails: 55+ – An Untapped Community for Foster Homes…

Yesterday I went on a home visit for a woman who is interested in becoming a foster for our rescue.  I met her at my book signing.  She is an older woman – in her 60’s or so.

I had briefly talked to her about fostering at the signing where I also met her 17-year-old dog who is now blind and deaf.  I knew that she had THE heart for rescue.

I followed my GPS  to her gated neighborhood, a 55+ community.  I drove through the tree-lined streets and noticed the manicured yards.  It was quiet and welcoming and safe.

She met me at the door, holding her little dog in her arms.  Warmly invited me in, asked if I wanted coffee or lemonade or anything at all.  We found comfy seats in the living room of the lovely ranch home.  (no stairs).

She talked for some time about all the dogs she has had.  She teared up a few times as she shared the ups and downs – the joy they gave and the illnesses they suffered.  She took me through the house to see the pictures of all the dogs who once shared her life.

We started to talk more about the actual idea of fostering.  She had questions that I was happy to answer.  I, too, had my standard set of questions.  Where will the dog go out, where will you keep it when you are gone, how long are you away from the home, is there a fence, will you walk the dog, where will you take it for vet care, what if the dog has behavior issues, etc…

As I sat there taking in her answers, I became overwhelmed.  Since she is retired, she would be spending most of every day with the dog, but if she needed to be gone more than a few hours, there was a myriad of friends with dogs living in the community who would come to let the dog out. “It is something we all do for each other.”

“We all take our dogs for walks at least 3 times a day.  Did you see the little park when you came in?  That is our dog park.  We all like to go there together.”

“Behavior issues?  Oh, well the lady next door had a little poodle who was nippy and took her to a great trainer a town away.  Another friend had one and we have all helped to socialize her.  She is so much better now.”

The more she talked, not just of herself, but of the community, I couldn’t help but say out loud,”This is the ideal setting for foster homes!”

And it is.  Here is a group of people who have the time and the communal resources to foster dogs.  They enjoy the socialization having a dog brings, they have each other to rely on for care, they have band together a group of resources whether it be training, vet care, or the internet.    They have an entire support system in place.  It was amazing!

She talked of her 90-year-old neighbor fostering a Yorkie.  She couldn’t believe the woman was able to say goodbye, but she pointed out that it was the woman who knew in her heart the young dog had the energy for a young family.  This group wasn’t just physically able to manage foster care, they were emotionally mature enough to know when to let them go.

The home visit was a complete success.  As I drove away, my heart felt so full of joy.  At 45, I contemplate mortality a lot more often now.  I worry about living life fully.  Well, here was an entire aging community willing to contribute to something I am passionate about.  I had to feel good about that.

I also had to stop and think if, as rescue people, we have given this population enough credit?  Have we ever really stopped to think of the untapped potential they offer?

Often rescues are hesitant to even adopt to seniors.  Sure the mortality odds aren’t in their favor, but anyone could die at any given time.  And frankly, the odds are not that good for the 2 million dogs who WILL be killed in shelters across America this year.  I am more than willing to place my bet on the senior population, willing to take the homeless dogs in and to offer them so much companionship and love.

The rescue community struggles amongst itself at times, arguing about what makes the best home and who should or shouldn’t be able to adopt.  We get so caught up in perfection, I think we fail to look at all the wonderful scenarios right in front of us.  There are 55+ communities in nearly every major city across America.  Imagine if we could take just a handful of fosters and place them every month, we would be opening up more kennel space, saving so many more dogs AND providing lifelong health benefits to the members of the communities.  We all know animal companionship leads to a longer and more fulfilling human life.

If, as a rescuer, you are still hesitant to involve a senior community, think about your own mortality for a few minutes.  When you are 60, 70, 80 even 90 do you see your life without a pet?  I didn’t think so…

Here are a few links to  55+ communities in the states.  Build your foster program today! #fosteringsaveslives

Del Webb

55+ USA Communities

55+ Community Guide



Tails: It is time to act like the superior species

It has been a tough few days.  The killing of Harambe has left me a bit rattled.  Yes, I am one of the judgmental people blaming the parents of the little boy who didn’t just “fall” into the enclosure, but chose to find his way in.  If it was that easy or could happen that fast, wouldn’t more children have done it?

I find it easier to place blame on the parents because neither appear sorry for what happened to Harambe.  Not one of them has expressed shame or sadness, let alone accountability for the death of Harambe.  I find that unbelievably selfish.

From what I have heard, this is not the first time their parenting skills have been questioned.  In fact, I heard on the news last night that they are being investigated by the Cincinnati police now. Good.

Harambe’s murder didn’t just spring from poor parenting, his murder brings to light the issue of zoos, altogether.  Many, or should I say most, who walk in my circle of animal welfare have come to recognize zoos as cruel places of immoral captivity.  Taking any wild animal and placing it in a concrete cage is less than freeing and certainly, when truly thought through, should be less than entertaining for compassionate people to observe.  Watching an African lion pace 100 strides back and forth is not fun nor does it bring a smile to my face.

Harambe was a critically endangered species of gorilla, a western lowland. He was brought in specifically to mate with the zoo’s females and help populate the species again.  It is for this reason, that there are proponents of the zoo.  Some argue, that while zoos are holding animals captive, they are doing so with the intent to save the many endangered species on our planet.

I have spent much of the last few days contemplating that concept.

Here are my questions… 1) If the true intent of zoos is conservation, why don’t they operate like a sanctuary?  I have been fortunate enough to work in a sanctuary.  Sanctuaries do not put their animals in constant view of people.  Animals are given very large spaces away from people, so they can live a life free of stress.  Sanctuaries, whenever possible, allow animals to return to the wild after they have healed.  I worked at a place called Safe Haven where we treated cougars, fox, bobcat, possum, etc… Some of the cougars were from zoos and were not able to return to the wild, but any other animal who came in was given minimal human interaction, so it’s chances for survival were great.  If Harambe, whose sperm was saved, is able to impregnate a few females who are then able to carry babies to term and deliver health baby gorillas, will those gorillas return to the wild or will they be locked up just like Harambe?

2) I find it painfully interesting that we as a nation are willing to invest millions of dollars in the captivity of animals for the so-called sake of preserving the species, but cannot put the same type of passion, effort and financial backing behind stopping the myriad of reasons species are endangered in the first place.  Poaching, lack of environmental control, corporate company destruction of varying species land, etc… these are the very reasons these animals have come to be endangered.  Why not spend the money to PREVENT the endangerment and allow the animals to thrive in their natural habitat and not a concrete cage?

3) Lastly, what are we preserving these endangered species for?  If we do not return them to the wild aren’t we just creating a larger collection of shoes to display?  Yes, I value the miraculous amount of different species of plants and animals on this planet.  It is heartbreaking to realize that so many have become extinct.  However, part of extinction is a result of evolution.  If we are simply saving species so that we can place them in a glass box and selfishly observe them, I don’t believe we are actually preserving life for the right reasons.  I am fairly confident that a life in a concrete cage, is not the life Harambe was seeking nor his creator.

We literally pluck wild animals from their environment and place them in concrete cages for our entertainment while justifying it by saying we are saving a species.  We really are that selfish.

Harambe died because of human ignorance and human greed.  Those are not the traits I find pleasing in a human race and neither should you.  We can and should do better.  We are supposed to be the most intelligent species of all with the intrinsic capability of compassion – it is time we show the animals of our planet that we are.  It is time we stop treating this planet like it was created solely for us.  It is time we finally act like the superior species and treat animals as they were meant to be treated with kindness and compassion and respect.