{Take Action Tuesday} Your Community

Last week’s post was more, how do I put this, controversial than I anticipated it would be.  I really can’t imagine anyone will find fault in today’s topic though!  I read through countless articles and petitions over the past week trying to decide what I wanted this week’s post to be about, but after Sunday afternoon, I knew what I wanted to focus on: reaching out to your community.  It’s all about how you can get involved in your community.

Spunky Harley is the Queen of the kennel and she knows it!

Spunky Harley is the Queen of the kennel and she knows it!

It is incredibly easy for one person to make a difference.  My “Take Action” challenge this week is to find one simple way to do something for homeless or needy animals in your community.  Perhaps the simplest way would be to donate money.  I highly, highly recommend looking for a local rescue.  If you don’t know of one, try googling “(name of your city) dog rescue”.  Have a favorite breed?  Search for “(favorite breed) rescue”.  You want to make sure that it is a 501(c)3 because that means they are non-profit, and operate off of donations, with no money going to fund political ventures like lobbying.  Take a few minutes and look over their site.  Often times they will even have a “wish list” of some sort with items that they are in need of.  Who knows, they might just be desperate for blankets and you happen to have quite a few extras that are crowding your hall closet.  You could clean out your closet, make a needed donation, and not even spend a penny!

Daddy

Daddy is quite possibly one of the most eager-to-please dogs I have ever met!

Speaking of blankets, did you know that most Animal Controls are operated on extremely limited funds?  Some only have enough money in the budget for the salaries of officers, utilities, and euthanasia.  You know what’s missing from that list?  Food, toys, veterinary care, and even blankets for cold winter nights.  No, not all are that bad, but some are and they might just be in your back yard (this was true for me, and let me tell you, it was quite a shock when I learned it.)  Try googling “(name of your city) animal control”.  Look for the budget, it’s public record, and you might just be surprised at what you find.  They will appreciate your old blankets.  Or maybe you plan to get your dog a new bed for Christmas?  Give them your old one!  Notice a sale on dog food at your grocery store?  Pick up a bag or two.

Elliot is truly the complete package: smart, handsome, eager to please!

Elliot is truly the complete package: smart, handsome, eager to please!

Another great way to help at Animal Control’s is to volunteer your time, just to do something as simple as walk the dogs.  Did you know that often times the only way the dogs get out of their kennel is if volunteers come and let them out?  It’s a sad reality, but most of the time these places have employees that are overworked.  Simply walking the dogs is sometimes a luxury that they don’t have time to for.  And it’s the dogs that really suffer in these situations.  Imagine the pent up energy and stress that many dogs could be relieved of simply by getting them out into the fresh air and a little exercise.  While you are walking them, maybe practice a few basic commands like “sit”.  Knowing a few tricks, not to mention being calmer and less stressed, is PROVEN to make dogs SIGNIFICANTLY more adoptable!

Joffy

Joffy is something else. SO athletic and smart. If I could take one home, it would’ve been this stud.

Planning to stay home for the holidays?  Been considering the idea of fostering but just not sure if you’re ready for that commitment?  Reach out to the local rescue that you just found and offer to temporary foster for them.  What does that mean?  Often times foster families travel for the holidays and the rescue needs a family to take the dog from anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks while the normal foster is traveling.  The beauty of this is that while fostering is temporary in the sense that the dog will only be with you until it is adopted, there really is no way to know exactly how long that will take.  By “temp” fostering, you will actually know exactly how long you will have the dog!  Plus, it’s is a great way to see if you are actually up for fostering or not.  If you don’t enjoy it, it’s just a few days out of your life, but who knows?  It might inspire you to become a regular foster and save countless lives!

Radar

Little Mr. Radar is 100% goofiness!

       Heard of a friend, coworker, or member of your church that might be down on their luck?  Maybe it’s your cousin’s-hairdresser’s-mailman’s-sister.  Instead of just gossiping over the water cooler, figure out how to get in touch with this person and offer to help.  It might take nothing more than a couple of bags of dog food, some flea preventative, and help finding a veterinary clinic to keep a family intact and a dog out of a shelter.  Can’t afford to buy these things yourself but still want to help this person?  Reach out to that rescue that you found and see if they would be willing to help you help that person.  Seriously.  It is SO much easier to help a family that already loves their dog keep it safely in their home rather than hope to find that dog a new home after the family has turned the dog over to a shelter where it can suffer emotional trauma.

Atlas

Atlas is mellow and easy to please. Just needs a little love and he’s happy!

None of those sounding up your alley?  What about contacting that rescue and asking for a printable version of their foster brochure to pass out at work or leave on the counter at your local coffee shop?  Maybe they have printable flyers you could hang at your favorite pet store.  What about asking for a magnet to put on your cars thus rendering yourself a mobile advertisement?

Joffy

I dare you to look into Joffy’s eyes and not fall in love.

Still nothing jumping out at you?  How about the all-time easiest way ever to help out: hit the share button!  If you live in the northern part of Florida, you could share this post which is full of adoptable dogs.  Share a picture from the Facebook page of the local rescue you found.  But please, keep try to keep it local.  Everyone wants to share that picture of a terribly sad dog located on the opposite side of the United States, but think about it, if you are seeing it, how many other people have already seen it as well?  This is called “going viral”.  Sure, it’s fantastic for that dog but lots of times by the time you have seen that picture, the dog has already been adopted!  I’m not saying never to do it, just keep in mind that there are so many dogs in need that never make it to the lime light because their story just doesn’t have the drama to “go viral”.  This certainly doesn’t make them any less deserving though, does it?  Remember, sharing is caring (not to mention quick, easy, and free!)  Take action!

If any of these gorgeous dogs caught your eye, please email me at morganrivera518(at)gmail(dot)com.  They would like nothing more than a home of their very own for the holidays! 

A Little Altruism Talk.

It wasn’t all that long ago I wrote a post I personally still really enjoy:  I could have more money, but I wouldn’t be as rich.  It seems to ring truer and truer for me with every day.  I have been feeling deeply altruistic of late, and not just about animals as is normally the case for me.  I keep feeling the need to make my life mean something, and for me, that would preferably be a positive difference for others (human and furry alike.)  I want to be known as “a good person”.  Nothing more complicated, or deep than that; when people mention or think of me, I just want it to be with something like, “Yea, Morgan, she’s a good person” attached to the end of their thought.  This does not come from a place of vanity.  I just really want to make a positive difference in the world.  That simple.

Maggie, a rescued pit bull, appreciates a simple, sunny day.

When an email was sent around my office about “Adopting a Senior” my mind immediately jumped to senior animals (shocking, I know.)  The program was in fact, about senior humans, and not animals.  I decided to adopt not one, but two, seniors that live in my area that have no families of their own.  All the program requires of me is to buy a gift from their “wish list” and either drop it off or deliver it myself.  I’ve decided that these people are certainly not just lonely during the holidays so I have a few different ideas of ways to reach out and hopefully build a little bit of a relationship with them that can last beyond the holidays.  I’m also in the process (no joke, it’s seriously a whole process) of applying to the children’s hospital here.  I haven’t completely decided how I feel about that though, not because I am afraid of how sad it might be, but because it has strict requirements on how much time you must pledge and a minimum of a 6-month commitment.  I’m cautious to take on a hefty commitment because I am hoping for a big development with my rescue efforts in the near future.  I apologize for how vague that sounds, but I don’t want to jinx anything!  Cross my heart, hope to die, I will make the announcement so we can all celebrate together just as soon as I know things are a “Go.”

In addition to “adopting” the seniors, and applying to the children’s hospital, I also decided to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.  It’s a little-known organization that builds houses in low-income areas and provides mortgage assistance to qualifying buyers of said homes.  Have you heard of it?  Yea, I thought so.  I had always thought it seemed like so much fun to go and actually work.  To actually build something.  It’s no secret, I like physical labor and really getting my hands dirty.  I was so excited!  I arrived at 7:30 am on the dot, rocking my oldest jeans, and couldn’t wait to get started.  I was going to help build a house!

Maggie, a rescued pit bull, enjoying to comfort and safety of her forever home.

The crew arrived and once everyone was there the “foreman” gave us a mini orientation and off we went.  Sadly (for me at least) the house was mostly complete already and we were in charge of prepping and painting that day.  I volunteered to spackle the holes in the baseboards and as I got to work I started chatting with the woman that was spackling the door frames.  She was excited because she was a homebuyer and nearing the end of her required 300 hours of work.  It was so cool to interact with a real person, that was really benefiting from this program, and that really appreciated it.  I imagined her as the human version of a dog that was finally leaving the shelter and headed to a real home for the first time.  Pure and simple appreciation.

While my heart undoubtedly lies with animals in need, I also see the importance in helping out some two-leggers as well every now and then.  In a world caught up in the size of Kim Kardashian’s newest engagement ring, I think we could all benefit from ungluing our eyes from the television and going out and helping those that are less fortunate than us.  It makes you appreciate everything you have, and I for one, think we need more of that.

Balancing Acts

I know I refer to And Foster Makes Five like, all the time, but we just always seem to be on similar pages so I can’t help it!  They recently wrote a post about balance and…here’s a shocker, I’m in a position of playing a balancing act myself.  It’s fantastic news but basically the job that I recently started is turning into kind-of-a-big-deal and I basically have to revamp an entire department that has been screwing things up royally making mistakes for the last year.  And what does this mean for me?  Long, very stressful hours.  With Rich embarking on his law career at the same time, well, it leaves little time for extra curricular actives, like volunteering (no matter how much I wish that could be my actual job.)

IMG_3568

It hurts my heart but there is just no way we could take in a foster with the unpredictably (and potentially very long) hours we will both be working for the next few months (years?!)  I know the mutts will be a little sad to see less of us but Maggie will get to go to camp (which is extremely conveniently located about a quarter of a mile from my office!) and the other two will sleep lounge around the house all day, just enjoying being their old lazy selves.

I am proud of the friends that I’ve gotten involved in rescue (go check out UnsaidYetUnderstood who I quite literally had to nag to start fostering….and has now had 10 dogs pass through her doors!) and like to think that even though I’m not actively fostering right now, at least I have inspired others to do so.  This is quite literally the reason I started the blog, so I guess that makes it a success?  There are also friends that have gotten involved in other aspects of volunteering, and also blogging, which I love.  The way I see it, every new person that helps “spread the word” will reach a new person that I couldn’t have.  And those people might become inspired as well, and then they might inspire someone new, and then…..you see what I mean?  It’s awesome!

Cute Pit Bull

Vote for Maggie to make it into an adorable calendar and possibly become the most perfect ever Miss July by “liking” her picture here!

All of this to say, I have a feeling this space that I’ve so enjoyed filling with stories of my adventures, my overly opinionated opinions, and of course, dogs in need, will probably continue to dwindle as it has been recently.  It makes me sad, but I can also step back and look to the future, and realize that by settling into a prosperous career now, it will ultimately benefit so many more dogs in the long run because I will ultimately be in an even better position to help and give more than just my time.  Don’t get my wrong, if there are things I can do, I will, it’s just I really don’t foresee my blog about fostering really having anything to do with fostering for quite some time.  (This is where I wipe away a tear.)

Balance:  A necessary evil that I will put up with for now.  In the mean time: Foster.  Transport.  Donate.  ADOPT!  Saves lives.

Pit Sisters

Guess what?  So you know how I was talking about how bored I have been because I’m not busy?  Well, the group Pit Sisters, a Jacksonville rescue that pulls pits from the high kill shelters, has been putting me to work!

Pit Bull puppy

In addition to pulling the most at-risk dogs and adding them to their program they also team up with the shelters to help them when they are in a time of crisis.  Last week they committed to “holding” 7 dogs until next weekend when the shelter is having a major adoption event. These dogs would have been put down otherwise.  The Pit Sisters found a woman with a piece of land that was willing to house all of the dogs.  The problem was, she suffers from a serious illness and can’t actually care for the dogs herself.  The group put out a plea for volunteers so of course I jumped at the opportunity!  I’ve gone out there a couple of times to feed, walk, and just generally love on the dogs.

Deaf Puppy

If I wasn’t concerned Rich might leave me, I would have come home with this sweetie. He’s deaf but that does NOT slow him down! He is so stinkin’ cute and cuddly, I wanted him all to myself!

Deaf Puppu

He’s got the cutest pink nose, and is all white except for this unique little spot on his rear end. Just to die for!

In addition to that, I went to their adoption event yesterday and got to meet some of their dogs that are in foster care.  What an adorable group they are!  (They are the dogs featured throughout this post.)  I’ve now got a standing agreement with the ladies to come to their monthly adoption events and get pictures!  Yay!

Chocolate Lab Puppy

And of course, now that I finally am getting put to work a little, I find a job.  Starting tomorrow I will be Jacksonville’s newest accountant.  I know, it sounds thrilling, doesn’t it?  Oh well, I suppose crunching numbers for a few years isn’t such a bad thing.  It might just give me the experience (and definitely the savings!) to open my own rescue one day.  I suppose only time will tell though.

Pit Bull

If any of these adorable mugs are begging to be added to your family, please email sisters@pitsister.org or myself.  They are a fantastic group that does great work here in Jacksonville!

Bulldog Mix

This girl was a total ham. So silly and sweet!

Bulldog Mix

Dirty Hands: Adding Value to Your Life

Lately I have been feeling rather, well, worthless.  You see, something happened last year when I started fostering and got more involved with rescues and shelters: I began to feel like there really was a point to my life.  Up until then, I had been so busy working multiple jobs to put myself through school, that I never really pondered the whole “Why am I here?” question.  I was just focused on the immediate goals before me.

Rescue Dog

I have always operated at turbo speed.  Working multiple jobs and going to school, then working and tackling the rescue and fostering world at full blast. After the move, before I started my new job, I had some free time but I was consumed with home projects which kept me busy.  Then I started working, another way to keep busy.  I haven’t mentioned this but about a week into what I thought would be a wonderful job that would help me one day fulfill a dream, I realized I actually hated it and decided not to waste my time or the owners, and I quit.  I stayed there until he found a replacement which didn’t take too long, so for the past roughly three weeks, I’ve been back to being jobless.  And I’m going insane.

Lab Puppy

 I don’t know what to do with idle time.  It’s always been a foreign concept to me.  I lived my life in overdrive which in turn kept my mind constantly busy.  Now that all I do is sit around the house all day, I’ve been feeling completely worthless.  I have always done random volunteering here and there.  And one of my earliest memories is of describing to my parents, in great detail, how if I won the lottery I would buy a huge piece of land to house homeless pets and also have a veterinarian on staff to offer free spaying and neutering.  Seriously, I was a freak of a little child–you wouldn’t believe how incredibly detailed the plan actually was.  Anyways, my point here is, I have always had it in me to help others, especially animals, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually began to feel like this is why I am here.  It’s what makes my life worth something.

Rescue Puppy

I have been spending my days split between job hunting and researching grants to apply for on behalf of Last Hope Rescue.  It makes me feel like I’m at least doing a little something “good” with my time.  I don’t want to take on a new foster until I know if/when I will be starting a new job and how demanding it will be.  I have contacted a local rescue that I really like but they didn’t really have a need for me (outside of taking pictures for them, which I will be doing this weekend)…until today.   Today they told me they were in urgent need of help!  It was like the Heaven’s had opened up and I could hear the angels rejoicing.  I was going to get my hands dirty and do something!  Little did I know, I was going to get the dirty in the most literal sense.

Transporting a dog

In the midst of using my hands to scoop donated dog food into a trash bag for transportation, with sweat rolling down my face, it hit me: I am happiest when I am physically doing something good.  Getting my hands dirty, both literally and figuratively.  Of course things like grants are important, and super necessary to actually get to the root of the problem, but I’m a dirty hands girl, through and through.  It’s what I love and today reminded me of that with stunning clarity.  This is how I feel the most valuable.

Elderly Rescue Dog

What makes you feel the most valuable?  Is it getting your hands dirty, too?  Or parenting your children?  Or cooking an excellent dinner?  Do you believe that there is a reason you are here on Earth?

Rescue Dogs

I could have more money, but I wouldn’t be as rich.

Yup, it’s true!  I realized after my post about wanting an SUV again (which I still totally do) that I could actually easily afford one – if I didn’t spend so much money on “rescue” stuff.  I could also afford a new pair of boots, that super cute jacket at Banana Republic that I’ve been eyeing, pedicures…all kinds of stuff.  But would I be as happy?  No way.

Maybe it’s just that I’m maturing.  Or maybe it’s that I’ve reached some Zen-like, Monk-ish, altruistic state.  I’m not sure what it is, but I now see that it’s not the material things in life that matter.  That jacket I want?  I could fully vet at least two dogs for what I would spend on it.  Or those boots?  Gas for multiple transports or trips to the shelter.  One pedicure?  New leash and collar for a dog.  Yes, this is how my brain works.  I see something I want and I automatically think how that money could be better spent doing good.

Maggie

And you know what?  I am absolutely, 100%, without a doubt, happier this way.  That jacket isn’t going to give me a big sloppy kiss to say “thanks.”  That pair of boots isn’t going to gaze at me with eyes full of love and appreciation.  And the pedicure?  Well, I’m pretty sure the dogs (not to mention Rich) wouldn’t notice, let alone mind, if my toes go naked.

Maggie

I’ve mentioned it before, but the feeling of knowing that you, yes you, are responsible for a dog not only being alive, but bringing joy to a family is beyond words.  There have been times when I had to decide between spending my money on a dog and on something else that I want and every single time I later look back on that decision and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I not only made the right decision, but having chosen differently would have felt enormous guilt.

No, not The Cone of Shame!

No, not The Cone of Shame!

I don’t mean to suggest that everyone out there immediately stop spending money on anything that isn’t “rescue” related.  Absolutely not. The world wouldn’t continue to turn.  The point I am trying to make is that maybe, just maybe, give up that latte on the way to work and pledge the $5 to a dog in need instead.  Skip your monthly massage and buy a couple of bags of food for a local rescue.  Offer to transport a dog one Saturday morning instead of going to a big brunch.  You won’t even notice those things that you are “giving up” but you will notice how fulfilled you feel.

IMG_8694

And it doesn’t even have to be “dog” related.  Sponsor a starving child.  Donate to restoring an old library.  Go read books to the elderly in a nursing home.  Step outside yourself and your “needs” and see the world around you.  Volunteering doesn’t have to become all-consuming but give it a try.  You might just be surprised at how rich you become.

Oh!  And don’t forget, it’s free to “share” a picture on Facebook!  Sharing is Caring.

Sweet as Honey

I have a theory.  Dogs are placed Earth to teach us compassion; how to live and love; how to forgive and forget; and how to put the best paw forward, despite darker days.

Honey was rescued by a good samaritan after he witnessed her being kicked and beaten for “roaming the neighborhood.”  Honey has scars. Honey has a hernia from where she was kicked in the stomach.  Honey also happens to have one of the sweetest spirits of almost any dog I have had the pleasure of meeting.

Honey is a shining example of dogs’ ability to move past bad situations and live life to the fullest.  She is now living in a foster home, chasing the resident cats, kissing anyone that will let her, and just loving life.  Honey is just as happy as any other puppy out there.  You truly would never know she had experienced a harsh word or hand.

It’s time for Honey to find her forever home.  A family of her very own to love and cherish her.  If you are looking for a spunky, spirited, loving pup to add to your family, please contact me or lasthoperescuefl@gmail.com  Thanks!