Learning From The Best

by Kimberly Wade

Last week I was lucky enough to attend an educational conference for animal welfare professionals. It provides workshops, training, networking opportunities and more. To say it was mind blowing is not even close.

Animal welfare is a unique field. We are emotional but hard working people. We are compassionate and dedicated. We all are out for the greater good of animals. Sometimes, we even get so involved we borderline on “crazy animal people” and I say that with the utmost respect—especially considering I call myself a crazy cat lady. It’s a tough job, but we take the good and the bad and use it to grow and save even more lives. We all work to be the voice of the voiceless and when you put thousands of us together amazing things happen.

One big thing I took away from the conference was that Nevada Humane Society is a nationwide leader. In more than one instance, we were used as the example for others. Our programs, events, marketing—everything that we do that increases our lifesaving efforts and raising awareness of homeless pets is a model. Smaller groups, or those that are brand new or just individuals wanting to make a difference were able to look at us for innovative ideas so that they too can reap the benefit we’ve seen in Northern Nevada.

We don’t often toot our own horn (or maybe we do) but I think it’s so important for local people to realize how well-known we are on a national level. We do amazing things in our community thanks to you and while the country is patting us on the back and borrowing our ideas, we forget sometimes to tell our own people right here in the same city.

Another great thing from the short trip? We received a grant a while back for a mobile spay/neuter clinic. The company that builds these incredible vehicles brought our giant RV to the conference as a display model, then my husband (he’s a volunteer by affiliation of me) and I drove it back to Reno. But who would we be without making the trip benefit homeless pets? We partnered with a nearby animal welfare group and transported 15 animals back to Reno. Several have already been adopted, which goes to show that it takes a village to increase lifesaving efforts.

I think it’s safe to say we all have reason to be proud of our lifesaving efforts, wouldn’t you agree?

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How Do You Know When To Say Goodbye

by Kimberly Wade

Forgive me in advance because this is extremely personal—but I felt it was something all of us can relate to. So many amazing people adopt senior pets from Nevada Humane Society, and we all know that many of them live long into their teens. Some of us raise them as newborns with them by our side for years. Inevitably, the end will always come, but my recent struggle was how do you know when to say goodbye?

My Bailey was nearly 17—a beautiful, blue-eyed, Siamese tabby. He, along with his Calico sister Cali, who I lost a little over a year ago at 16, was with me for half of my lifetime. They saw me through my adult years. The two of them have been through more with me than anyone. Travel (seriously—they would take road trips with me), multiple homes, jobs, roommates, dogs (this didn’t always go over well but they tolerated them), a cross country move and my husband. Over the last year, since we also lost Arwyn unexpectedly, a 4 year old Siamese, Bailey began to age. We joked he was senile—he was normally a shy, independent guy but began hanging out with my husband and I, along with our other pets. He would stop in the middle of the room and stare at us, as if he forgot where he was going. He became—dare I say—social, and wanted to—gasp—cuddle. He had not done this since he was young. We joke but we also knew it was the first sign.

Over the last few weeks, he started aging even more. There were a couple of signs that something was off, but overall he was normal (for him). Then my husband said we should get him checked out. His back end seemed to be hurting him and his appetite was decreasing (and he’s a big boy). X-rays were fine, blood work showed early stages of kidney failure. He was old. I got this. We could manage this as long as he had a quality of life. We left the vet with hope.

Within two days it went downhill. He appeared to be in pain but put up a good front. He still ate his treats, my only hope, but I knew something was wrong. I struggled. My husband struggled. I asked him to give me a sign. I didn’t want him to be in pain, but he did still have some quality of life. I asked again for a sign. He meowed.

I went to the vet with my husband (we go to every vet appointment together, as a family) with crummy expectations. I had a feeling. I struggled so hard because I felt Bailey was giving me mixed emotions. With Cali and Arwyn, unexpected illness took over so we knew the right thing to do was to let them go. That was hard. They were social, in our face daily. For some reason with Bailey, it was harder. And he was the recluse—who knew this would be the case?

The vet confirmed what I needed to hear. She felt a mass in his abdomen—one that wasn’t there two days ago. That said a lot. We spent over an hour talking, weighing options, but I knew in my heart it was time. I finally saw it in his eyes and we had a moment. I told him it was okay and that we would set him free. The vet agreed it was the right thing. My husband and I held him together and we let him go.

As I write this I can’t even see the page—my eyes are blurred with tears for our three cats we lost in a year—two of which spent half my lifetime with me. But I find comfort knowing we did the right thing when it was their time, and comfort knowing that others have been through this. But I still ask… how do you know when to say goodbye? Our furry friends are conditioned to hide any pain or injury—just as their wild predecessors would do. As their people, we have to look closely to see that something is wrong. But we have the ability to give them a gift. We can set them free. Goodbyes are never easy, old or young, but we have to be the bigger being and say goodbye when we know they are ready—regardless of if we are ready.

I let you into my personal thoughts because I know you understand. I am not seeking sympathy, but rather want you to know that we’re in this together. I want to thank you for being amazing pet parents. And I especially want to thank those that adopt senior pets. They deserve a family, no matter how long or how short their time may be. And you are the ones that are their heroes.

Today, I still don’t know when it’s time to say goodbye, but I do know it’s important to let them go when they are ready—when it is their time. Thank you for letting me share this experience, and more than anything, thank you for joining me by being there for the animals.

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Carson’s Lifesaving Journey, Part Three

by Kimberly Wade

Lately we’ve been following Carson’s Lifesaving Journey, a stunning young kitty (age two) who was hit by a car in Carson City last month. This week is his halfway point in recovery—it’s been over four weeks, can you believe it? And wow, does it show!

I visited Sierra Veterinary Specialists a couple days ago so that I could actually be a part of his checkup—therefore meeting with doctors, going over x-rays and getting a better understanding of his needs. Through it all, Carson smiled. I’m not kidding. His tail was held high, his curiosity pushed him to explore every nook and cranny and his affection was so over the top that he couldn’t stop himself from plopping himself in my lap more than once. Carson is one cool cat.

Michelle, a Licensed Vet Tech and the Patient Care Lead, and Carson’s foster mom, filled me in on the last few weeks. He’s been on cage rest with minimal activity while everything has been healing, with only slow walks and physical therapy to help his joints heal. His left leg and shoulder are doing well, with almost the full range of motion already there. His right shoulder and leg suffered more serious injuries, and so while he can move them, he’s still not able to flex that arm all the way out (but that is getting better). His jaw is healed—in fact, the tiny wire that has held it in place over the last month is ready to be removed.

As for his personality, Carson is charming as ever. He loves every human he meets, and we’ve discovered Carson loves other cats and has finally accepted his temporary doggie roommates! Big thanks to Michelle for really giving him the family lifestyle that he deserves.

I also spoke with Dr. Cioffi, one of many surgeons at Sierra Veterinary Specialists who always go above and beyond for our homeless pets. She let me know that overall Carson is doing well and his future is bright. He will receive two more sets of x-rays to ensure his healing stays the course, and will ultimately be given approval for release. When that time comes, he’ll need to be an indoor kitty, and keep his jumping to somewhat minimal—we don’t want any hard impacts on both front legs at the same time, and we all know when you jump up, you’ve eventually got to jump down!

Any veterinarian or animal caregiver knows that caring for a pet during tough times can take a toll on you. Whether a senior pet, injured pet, or just someone with a special need, it emotionally wears on you. We’re so proud to say that through it all, good, bad and challenging, Sierra Veterinary Specialists is there for Nevada Humane Society. We’ve given them shout outs before, but we will continue to do it again, because seeing the compassion and dedication in their eyes with every patient they see—well, that is exactly what you want in a lifesaving partner.

Be sure to continue to follow Carson’s Lifesaving Journey on our Facebook page as we post pictures and updates regularly. And if you’d like to donate to help Carson, or other pets just like him, those that may have encountered similar challenges, we’ll really appreciate it. Donate to Nevada Humane Society’s Emily’s Fund, a fund specifically to care for sick and injured pets, either online, by phone (775-856-2000 ext. 324) or by mail (2825-B Longley Lane, Reno, NV 89502). In the meantime, thanks for being there for Carson and all of us at Nevada Humane Society.

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