St. CATricks or St. DOGricks?

by Kimberly Wade

If you’re like me, you celebrate the holidays with your pets, including those like National Cat or Dog Day! We do this because our pets are family and therefore it’s only natural for us to include them in the celebrations. But what about using the holidays as a tool to speak up for animals in need?

Though Nevada Humane Society began in 1932, our lifesaving efforts, progressive movement and innovative programs didn’t begin until about 2007. That’s when the Board of Directors decided to change the mission to one of lifesaving and they hired a new leadership team to make this happen. At that time, we honestly had hundreds and hundreds of animals residing at the shelter daily—literally, three to four times the number of animals that reside here today. We needed to be creative, and quickly, in order to move animals into loving homes and make room for the many homeless pets that entered the shelter every day. We knew right away that getting people in the door to adopt was going to be key. So we got creative.

Our former executive director, Bonney Brown, was known nationwide for her talents in animal welfare. One of my favorite stories she used to share was that of adoption marketing. You see, back then we tried everything. We had certified pre-owned pets for adoption, senior campaigns, and promotions around the holidays. Whatever people were talking about, whatever got people in the door, we would do. After months of testing the waters and gaining a presence in the local and national media for our lifesaving success, we also began to hear from the naysayers. They exist everywhere—you know, the ones who don’t believe in what we are doing, don’t consider animals family, and so forth.

A woman mailed a letter to Bonney, basically insulting Nevada Humane Society by saying how “stupid” we were for using holidays and trends to make people adopt. She thought we were ridiculous and chastised us. She ended the letter with the statement, “What’s next? Arbor Day?”

You guessed it. Bonney and her team partnered with a local nursery, and over a period of days surrounding Arbor Day, held a fun adoption promotion where everyone who adopted was given a free tree from the nursery—all in honor of Arbor Day and all because of a nasty letter from someone who didn’t believe in us. The media loved it, and to this day we still share that story.

As Saint Patrick’s Day is nearly upon us, I share this to raise recognition for our animals. At Nevada Humane Society, we celebrate St. CATRicks and St. DOGricks. We look to the end of the rainbow for our version of the pot of gold—perhaps a kitten or an adult cat. We tout that dogs are luckier than a four leaf clover. We dress up our ginger colored pets with green headbands and take photos of them for fun. We use every angle we can to encourage people to come meet our pets so that they can see what we already know—they are all incredible individuals and deserve to find love a second time with a new family.

Happy St. CATricks or St. DOGricks and be safe with your furry family. Need to add to the celebration? Visit us daily, as we’re open at our shelter in Reno and Carson City seven days a week for pet adoptions, from 11am until 6:30pm. Follow the rainbow to us, because everyone will certainly reap the reward.

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Boxes, The #1 Preferred Toy of Cats

by Kimberly Wade

The doorbell rings. Dogs bark. Cats scramble to hide. Or maybe they run to greet your visitor. Either way, something big is happening. You answer the door to find the Fed Ex guy with a giant cardboard box. It’s like Christmas, Halloween and a birthday all rolled into one—for the cats.

My husband and I get our pet food delivered each month by Chewy.com. No matter what’s in the box, the cats always are the most excited for the box. Just the box. Maybe the paper stuffing too, but really, just the box. And if you have cats, you know that no matter what we buy them, not matter how fabulous the toy, they will always prefer just the box.

Cats and boxes go together like ribbons and bows. There’s just some sort of attraction. Feline experts have discussed a variety of reasons why cats prefer boxes and it actually makes sense when you think about it.

Reason one—for play. Cats can peer out of a box, climb into it, bat it around, or hide under it. They can scratch it, chew on it or throw their toys into it. No matter what they do with it, a box is exciting for just about any cat.

Reason two—for security. Shy cats, or maybe those who simply need some quiet time, can find privacy and a good hiding spot in a box. Boxes can make them feel secure and safe. That’s also true in animal shelters. At Nevada Humane Society, we have these boxes called Hide, Perch and Go habitats. The bottom has a little cubby hole for them to hide, the top has an area to perch, and when they are adopted, they fold up into a temporary cat carrier so that you can safely transport them home. Cats genuinely love them and it’s a wonderful tool for them in the busy, shelter environment.

Another reason is the principle we’ve all seen on the internet—“If it fits, I sits.” I’m not kidding. If you haven’t before, Google it. You’ll see more photos of cats cramming themselves into boxes of all sizes. While there is no expert study on why this happens, cats are known for their oddball places to relax or curl up. Mine at home are obsessed with my husband’s shoes, the sink, and any size box. Even if they only can fit in one leg, they will find a way to make their entire body fit, no matter how tight the space.

Finally, the latest box trend, one I am newly obsessed with. If you follow cats on Instagram you know the the hashtag #fridaynightboxpawty is a hit. From Amazon boxes to Chewy boxes to everything in between, my cats join this party every Friday night. We take a picture with their preferred box of the week, post it on their Instagram, tag their furriends (fur friends, get it?) and have a good laugh. Yes, I realize your cat needs to have his own Instagram account for this, but I promise it’s worth it.

There are so many ways to build relationships and create a bond between you and your pet. The #boxpawty is only one of them. And if you’ve adopted a pet from Nevada Humane Society, you know this. If you haven’t, well, you really need to get on that bandwagon, visit our shelter (one in Reno and one in Carson City!) and fall in love with someone because we promise it’s worth it.

By the way, you all know I’m a cat lady, but my husband and I do have dogs too. Three, to be exact. They too have their quirks, but other than food, they don’t have a “specific thing” like our cats do. So feel free to share your dog stories because I know they deserve it too. And I’m curious as to what silly dog topic I can come up with for this column.

Until next time, send me your cat box photos or other fun ideas to kwade@nevadahumanesociety.org. I love to share stories of adopted pets and can’t wait to read them!

 

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Double the Love

by Kimberly Wade

It’s the kind of story that warms your heart and breaks your heart all at the same time. Two dogs, one of them a senior, given up as a last resort. It was the last thing their family wanted to do, but when things spiral out of control and animals have nowhere to go, Nevada Humane Society is here.

Otis and Yogi arrived in late January. Yogi is an 8 year old Pomeranian Otis, his brother, is an 11 year old Pekingese. This dynamic duo has been together since they were puppies. Otis may be a few years older, but he easily took on the role of big brother from day one. They’ve bonded. They’ve shared ups and downs, learned from mistakes, gained from adventures and led a great life.

Recently, Otis and Yogi’s human mother had some circumstances arise that were out of her control. Her family was down on their luck and lost their home. They reached out to her, and of course she took them in. It wasn’t a good fit for Otis and Yogi, and after trying everything, she called Nevada Humane Society.

The day she came in to surrender Otis and Yogi was an emotional one. It was clear this was a hard decision. She was in tears; therefore, our staff was in tears. Everyone knew it was the right thing to do but it didn’t make it any easier. The glimmer of good news in all of this was that Otis and Yogi, though a bit nervous, were for the most part goofy, silly and affectionate. It was as if they knew they needed to keep their spirits up, and make everyone in the room smile no matter how tough the goodbye was.

Our staff at Nevada Humane Society immediately notified several managers. We knew that we needed to take extra good care of Otis and Yogi and give them lots of TLC. They deserved it. We quickly learned that both dogs were in pretty good shape. They needed some dental work but otherwise were healthy and happy. We promised to find them a home together, so right away we took photos and set them up with fluffy beds, food and water. Over the next couple of weeks they received medical care and love from staff—they quickly became a favorite of everyone.

Now the time has come for us to say goodbye to Otis and Yogi—they’re ready for a new family! We promised their person that we would find them a home together, and we’re keeping that promise. Otis and Yogi have sweet personalities and big, toothy grins. They love everyone and want nothing more than constant cuddle time. They will benefit from a good amount of attention, so we’re hoping someone who has plenty of time on their hands will fall in love with them—but we want anyone who is interested to come meet them. Otis and Yogi brought so much love to their previous owner and we know they will do the same for their next family.

This is lifesaving. We don’t turn you away no matter what the age. We take in the old, the ugly, the shy and the sweet. We understand things can happen and that while giving up a pet is hard, sometimes it needs to be done. We don’t judge nor do we assume. We are here to provide love and care for the animals while finding them new homes. This is lifesaving.

If you can help us find Otis and Yogi a home together, you are as much a part of this as we are. Otis and Yogi are available at our Reno shelter, located at 2825 Longley Lane. We’re open daily from 11am to 6:30pm, and an hour earlier on Saturdays, at 10am. We hope that Otis and Yogi’s new family is out there and that we get to meet you soon. Then, we can wrap up their story with a happy ending—something all of us can’t wait to see.ogether where they will get the love and affection they once had. Both boys have sweet personalities and big, toothy grins. They’ll need a little dental work but otherwise they’re in good shape. This is lifesaving. We don’t turn you away, no matter what the age. We take in the old, the ugly, the shy and the sweet. If you can help us find Yogi and Otis a home, together, as a team we can make a difference.

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My Furry Valentine

by Kimberly Wade

Typically Valentine’s Day is chocolate and roses and extravagant dates—for humans. But what about our furry Valentine’s? One of my cats, Maisey, has her own Instagram (shameless plug @little_maisey_moo) and all of her online friends are sending out Valentines. It’s beyond adorable, even if ya’ll think I’m a crazy cat lady (which I proudly own up to). Yet it got me thinking. At Nevada Humane Society we put a pet-related twist on as many holidays as we can. We focus on the joy pets bring into our lives as well as the human-animal bond. So his Valentine’s Day I challenge you to recognize the constant love our pets provide—there’s nothing like it.

Newton, our two year old tabby, loves my husband with his entire being. Newton lives to love. When Brandon comes homes from work, Newton races to the door to greet him, following him through the house, weaving in and out of his legs. In the kitchen, Newton leaps onto the counter and meows his hello. As Brandon smiles at him, Newton climbs up his chest, wraps his paws around Brandon’s face, and literally, kisses him. Later, when we’re relaxing on the couch, Newton is right there, rolling onto his back and putting his paws on Brandon’s chest, again, just to say I’m so glad you’re home. He repeats this all night. Newton goes beyond unconditional love.

Stella, a Yorkie, opened the hearts of Gary and Cindy in their time of need. They had lost two of their Yorkies and as you can imagine, were having a hard time. Bocce, their remaining pup, also grieved. Gary and Cindy weren’t ready to adopt again but they unexpectedly met Stella. Right away her tiny body, fuzzy face and huge heart brightened their souls. It’s as if she knew something was not well and it was her job to fix it. She bonded instantly to both of them and Bocce—bringing all three of them out of their shells. Stella not only showed them the vital importance of four-legged companionship, but she allowed them to move past the grief and focus on the good memories.

Kiki, an orange and white kitty, lives with Edmond and Joyce. Kiki and his siblings were found by a pit bull, Angel, on her morning walk eight years ago. They were alone with no mom, hungry and scared. Angel saved their lives and we shared their story. Edmond and Joyce heard about it and adopted Kiki—one of the kittens. Kiki flourished right away in his new home and has become an essential part of their life. Even now, as Edmond is facing some health challenges, Kiki alerts Joyce when something is wrong. He also understands when either of them are having a bad day by spending his time sitting between them offering a sense of peace and support.

Lacey, a young shepherd, was living with a family and her doggie sibling—neither of which treated her well. Her sister actually bullied her, and Lacey, ever submissive, became fearful and withdrawn. Brian and Rhona had been talking about getting a dog for a while. They visited Nevada Humane Society but didn’t find someone they felt was meant for them. They were patient, and soon heard Lacey’s story. They knew she would take work but they were willing to help her. They accepted her flaws and imperfections. They were meant for her. Lacey fell in love, as did they. I can now say Lacey has turned out to be an incredible dog and that they are truly “living happily ever after.”

Love comes in all shapes, sizes and looks. It can’t always be helped who we fall for, but when we recognize it, love can be a beautiful thing. Sometimes we may think we’re not ready but then we meet someone who sweeps us off our feet. So many stories of adoption start this way and these are the best ones.

Happy Valentine’s Day, and as I go, I leave you with a poem my intern wrote just for you.

Shall I compare thee to a warm lap?

For a human like you, I would travel the map.

Your loving cuddles make my heart content

A lifetime with you would be well spent.

-A love poem to my future adopter

P.S. If you ever wish to share your story, I’d love to hear it. Just email me at kwade@nevadahumanesociety.org.

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50 Shades of Spay

by Kimberly Wade

No litters, baby! That’s the goal with our newest campaign, which caters to Northern Nevada females (four-legged) this February.

If you know me, you know I love marketing trends. Piggybacking on other ideas works for us—especially when they gain national attention. We jumped on “The Secret Life of Pets” bandwagon, turned politics from a negative into a positive with our Re-PUP-licans and Demo-CATS, gave our animals a second chance with “Orange is the New Bark” and will soon be promoting furry Valentines. We also like to be a bit risqué, so we created the 50 Shades of Spay campaign, modeled after, you guessed it, the 50 Shades of Gray movie.

Look, we don’t care if you love the movie or hate it. It’s not our business. But we do care about cats on cats on cats. There are lots of them that need homes and the only way we’re going to make a dent in the bigger picture is to spay those cats! Yes, you love kittens (and there will still be kittens), but for those of you who don’t want relationships going to the next level in your spare bedroom, you should probably consider our 50 Shades of Spay campaign.

For the entire month of February, you can get your cat spayed for a reduced price at Nevada Humane Society. It’s only $50, plus your cat will get a free FVRCP vaccine. Our clinic is in Reno at 2825 Longley Lane and you must schedule an appointment by calling 775-856-2000 ext. 333. Spaces are limited.

In all seriousness, spaying cats is one of the most effective ways at reducing the homeless cat population—plus there are health benefits. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), spaying protects against certain reproductive cancers and infections, improves health and reduces many of the behavioral problems associated with mating.

Many people aren’t aware that you can spay a cat as young as eight weeks old and that female cats can have as many as three litters a year, with kittens getting pregnant as young as four months old! That means when you promote spay and neuter, you make a big impact on pet overpopulation. Think about it. If you have a cat that has a litter of six kittens, and they each have six kittens, and so forth, that’s a lot of cats.

It’s a no brainer. Spay and neuter your pets and jump on our 50 Shades of Spay bandwagon today.

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Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons

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by Kimberly Wade

It’s hard to find someone that wasn’t impacted by our recent weather. From heavy rains and flooding to serious snow and ice, everyone in our community was affected in some form. The animals, homeless pets especially, were among those.

On Friday, January 6, it was determined that our shelter in Reno could flood. A nearby drainage ditch is prone to flooding so we knew if the Truckee would crest, we could get hit. In addition, many of the streets around us were in the flood zone, and that would mean that people couldn’t get into the shelter. We immediately put our emergency plan into effect.

We decided to waive all adoption fees for Saturday, the day before the worst weather was supposed to hit. Our goal was to place as many animals into loving homes, therefore lessening the number of animals in the shelter that we would have to evacuate. We also asked for foster homes—reaching out to not just our existing foster homes but anyone in the public who would be willing to house someone for a few days. We asked volunteers if they could help us move all of our supplies. We called the media. We asked for help. The response was overwhelming.

We opened at 10am on Saturday. The parking lot was full even before that, with hundreds of volunteers lining up to help, adopters ready to find their new BFF and people wanting to donate—because they knew there would be a financial impact as well. We were flooded (pun intended) with people wanting to help us and our animals. I can’t even describe the feeling that went through me when I pulled up to the shelter—seeing cars lined up, people everywhere, Animal Services teams preparing for rescue, news crews—and even volunteers directing traffic! It was a madhouse to say the least, but in the best possible way. It was heartwarming, touching and humbling.

On Saturday alone, 81 pets were adopted into homes with new families and another 40 went to temporary foster homes. We were blown away at the kindness, generosity and good intentions that were displayed. It was unlike any other event because the people who responded came here to help. They didn’t come because the animals were free. They wanted to make a difference. After the danger had passed, we began receiving heartwarming stories about those who had found wonderful new homes in the face of crisis. We have a great community here and the stories and photos sent in by our adopters prove it.

While we start to share some of those stories on Facebook, I also ask that you join me for a huge thank you to everyone who made such a lifesaving difference during the flood weekend. We could not have done it without you! Collier International, thanks to the help of our Board of Directors, offered us space in a nearby empty storefront for a temporary shelter. ITS Logistics lent us a giant truck, as did Budget, to store our supplies so they wouldn’t get damaged. Hundreds of volunteers came to place sandbags, move supplies and care for the animals. Foster families, new and old, came out to bring animals home, even if for a few days. Adopters came from Tahoe, Sacramento and all over Nevada to save lives! Our management team was here round the clock watching over the animals and shelter. Our Carson City team was out in the weather to help people who needed it, providing food, care and shelter. We asked for help. You answered. And we are infinitely grateful. I can’t say it enough and I wish I could express the pride I felt upon seeing all of this happen. Thank you for showing the world what community means and what lifesaving stands for. Thanks to you, we took our lemons and turned them into lemonade!

P.S. Fun fact—on Sunday we had only one dog available for adoption! How amazing is that?!

 

 

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How do you know when to ask for Help?

by Kimberly Wade

Let’s face it. Most of us have a hard time asking for help. Whether we’re the stubborn type and feel only we can get it done the right way (that’s me) or we don’t want to bother others (that’s my husband), asking for help on any level isn’t easy. However, sometimes it’s needed. Many times it’s recommended. When we have new people join our team we always let them know if they have questions to ask a manager, so that we can provide the best experience and customer service. Our team, volunteers included, are always told it’s okay to ask for help because we’re dealing with lives and we want to give everyone the best possible outlook.

One way that Nevada Humane Society provides help is to support the unexpected circumstances that sometimes happen in our community. We’re there for homeless pets of course, but what about people who don’t want to give up their pets when they encounter a tough situation? It’s our goal to help them keep their pet when it’s right. Most people are not bad. Most people want what is best for their pet, but they don’t want to lose their animals. That’s when we step in.

Recently, an elderly couple had some bad luck. Their electric and water were turned off. They were struggling to put food on the table. They could barely care for each other. Their family, the four-legged kind, came first, so they decided to use their few resources to provide for their cats. Things finally hit a point where they needed help.

This couple is kind and friendly. They are very humble. They’ve been taking in neighborhood cats over the years, cats that no one else would take. Suddenly there were too many, and with no way to continue to provide for them, Nevada Humane Society was called.

We went to their home to assess the situation to see what we could do to help. The home was in fair shape and the couple brought tears to our eyes. Their cats were their entire life and they didn’t want to see them go but they knew they couldn’t care for everyone.

Our staff offered food, water and various other supplies. We determined a number of the cats, about 20, were friendly and in good condition. The couple decided to relinquish these cats to us, so we brought them back to the shelter in Reno, where they will soon be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before being put up for adoption. We left plenty of cat litter and food for the others and we’re now working to spay and neuter their remaining cats and take in more as needed.

Asking for help and giving up their family was not easy, but this couple knew it was time. They know the cats will go to wonderful homes. They also know the challenge is not over. They have since had their utilities turned back on, and are working to find ways to support some of the kitties so that not all of them have to be given up. They know we are there to support them, and their cats, and for that we are grateful.

There are times and situations where people are out of options. We want people to reach out to Nevada Humane Society before they hit that point—especially in circumstances where one may have too many animals to care for.

The cats that were brought in are actually pretty amazing. I spent some time with them and they are playful, affectionate and beyond cute. It warms my heart when we are able to offer this kind of help because we’re making a big impact for both people and pets, and knowing that we’re giving them all a second chance is the purrfect way to start of the New Year.

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