Spot's Going to Silverton!

Special ed teacher Mary Rankin called wanting a delivery route for her students so they could be a part of Spot and expand on their pet-related endeavors. They currently make and sell homemade dog treats out of the classroom and in shops in Silverton. During holidays they also assemble doggie gift baskets that include their homemade treats. They do doggie socialization bringing in dogs (usually belonging to teachers in the district), and help socialize the dogs — which also helps the students develop concentration. Rankin says the dogs simply create a more inviting, calming atmosphere. This is the fourth year students have gone into the community to walk dogs, which teaches them organization, scheduling, reliability, and responsibility, and allows them to interact with others and be a part of the community. 

We’re going to visit with Mary and her students Oct. 7, and will report in on how things are shaping up. Very fun!

Thanks for stopping by! Please visit again soon!

Spot to the Rescue → Transporters, Fosters Wanted

A tail of Independence Day

Spot’s work in rescue is growing, especially in transport and foster care. A recent success story unfolded over the 4th of July weekend.

It started with a Saturday alert that unless 17 cats were evacuated from a hoarding situation in Gearhart Oregon, they would be euthanized that Tuesday.

Many got to work, lighting up the email and phone networks. Little by little, 3 steps forward, 2 steps back, it all came together, thanks to hardworking animal lovers with hardcore dedication, and a bunch who hung in, passed the message, exercised extreme patience and dodged frustration from repeatedly bumping into walls and delays.

In the end, success. Many happy hearts and 18 now safe, happy kitties. Great kudos and appreciation to Kim, and to all who contributed to bringing this process to a happy close.

. . . As often happens, the gentleman in Gearhart set out with only the best intentions — to help cats in need. The situation soon became overwhelming, and problems were multiplying. A police officer and animal advocate in Gearhart had been working with the man trying to resolve the situation, and were approaching exhaustion.

This type of work is hit and miss, especially during holidays. Some replies are immediate, some very slow in coming. The work is often frustrating and thankless. Luckily, what keeps many involved in this working is their ginormous hearts.

. . . So two rock stars from Tillamook, Mary and Adah, headed in late Saturday, pulling EIGHTEEN cats from the chaos and filth, including a mama with 4 kittens who reportedly was so stressed she’d been licking the kittens bald. While they had immediate shelter for the cats, they were seeking fosters (and still are). A woman, Jayme of Albany, volunteered to foster the mother and kittens.

The original need was to transport the cats from Gearhart to Tillamook. After Adah and Mary made their heroic sweep, the need that remained unfilled was getting mama and kittens from Tillamook to Albany. Kim Gorman of Eugene stepped up. Here is a little journal wrapup from her 4th of July adventure. . . .

Kim recruited her niece Kelsey (14) to ride along and help. Leg 1 of the trip: Eugene Corvallis for carriers. Leg 2 to Kim’s hometown Monmouth . . .where the car broke down! Family came to the rescue, and loaner rig provided. Leg 3 Bay City (Tillamook) to get mama and kittens. 

When we arrived, Mary and Adah were tirelessly working on all the rescue cats — trimming nails, combing out fleas (hundreds!), and giving medicine. We were impressed with their operation and the skill and ease with which they tended to the many cats and kittens. Their commitment and dedication is impressive and admirable! We enjoyed visiting with them and touring their enchanting menagerie. We would have loved to have stayed longer, but had to get back on the road. Mary and Adah, you are industrious angels!

We drove down 101, enjoying the beautiful scenery. While I was busy driving, Kelsey nestled in the back seat sandwiched between two carriers, taking turns holding and playing with the cats and kittens. I could hear contented purrs from the driver's seat!  Everyone in the back was in heaven. Kelsey fell in love with all the kitties, and vice versa. I’m so glad she came with me, as she was instrumental in ensuring the cats had a stress-free trip to their new home. 

Very late that night, we returned to Corvallis to meet up with Jayme and her two girls. The handoff took place and the kitties all traveled a few more miles to their wonderful foster home with Jayme and her family."

Kim closed this note to all who connected (and stayed connected) to this situation from the moment they learned of it.

It has been a pleasure and privilege to work with all of you in this endeavor!  Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.  Please keep me updated on all the cats and their outcomes for new homes."

Spot has begun building a network of fosters and transporters. If you have a heart for this work, please let us know! There’s a contact form to get connected by clicking here.

A vital aspect of this effort is identifying existing resources in an effort to maximize them while eliminating redundancy. The ultimate goal: saving time, money and lives.

We’re asking all animal advocates, shelter and humane society staff to lend their 2 cents to the conversation by clicking here. Your input is invaluable. Please help Spot help!

Thanks to everyone involved in this effort for lending your time, your well wishes, helping hands and hearts. What a great community! 

Serena to the Rescue

This week-plus was extraordinary for the incoming we saw on the rescue side. ‘Tis the season, so no surprise, but over time we’ve gotten more and more active.

 Other than our routine support of the babies who really need a boost in Rescue Me! — those with medical needs, who are a little older, or who have simply been too long in a shelter — historically, we have received fewer, mostly high-emergency calls, like these:

* Homer’s man was dying. Homer was an 8-yr-old unneutered Shepherd mix, and he needed help fast, or was quickly headed for death himself.

* One man needed a foster family for his sweetpea, strictly for the time he’d be away in Iraq.

* A family who had to move across country for financial reasons couldn’t take the baby with.

These are the kinds of cases we’ve frequently seen and responded to, plugging into the network of giant hearts who step up, act fast, and find solutions.

These past couple of weeks pumped up the volume, with three separate kitty cases all at once: one single 7-week old with a cold, one bunch (16!) left to fend for themselves in a house abandoned through foreclosure, and two litters from an apartment dweller who couldn’t keep them — four 7-week-old kittens and a mama with seven 4-week-old kittens.

It was the second case — the kitties at the abandoned house, that brought this week’s memorable moment . . . or more accurately, memorable human being to “Spot’s House.”

It went like this. A woman named Serena was referred to us by Larry Chusid of the Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank after Serena called him seeking help with the 16 abandoned cats. Pongo promised food, and referred Serena to us for help with rescue.

Serena was at wits’ end, having already called 13 shelters, which she named so I wouldn’t tap contacts she’d already covered. She had obtained a promise from Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon to spay/neuter “all the cats she could trap” later this month, which was GREAT, but the question of the cats’ care and shelter remained unanswered.

I went to work, contacting shelters and rescues Serena hadn’t yet, and broadcasting the dilemma through our pipelines, while Serena continued hammering away for answers.

What made it so amazing, when so many do this thankless, frustrating, exhausting work every day?

This was Serena’s initiation-by-fire in the world of rescue, spay/neuter and ferals. Watching her take a step forward, question her direction, press on, step back, hesitate/question, and press on again . . . was amazing. Repeatedly she did the head-up, shoulders-back, deep breath, GO customary to those with the courage, conviction and cajones to push a mountain ‘til it moves.

Day 2 I got a call from a breathless Serena telling me about a government meeting she’d attended to report the situation, plead for help, and to publicly question why those who built this mess weren’t being held accountable. “I was SO nervous!,” she said, rushing through the details of the nail-biter turned invigorating (perhaps even life-changing . . . time will tell) event for Serena.

Day 3 found more calls and more connections. At one point Serena mentioned feeling powerful, excited, and full of passion. She said she thought just maybe she’d found her calling. “Maybe I’m meant be in government,” she mused . . . “Maybe I’m supposed to be an advocate.”

We’ll see how the story unfolds over time, and I’ll be sure to let you know. I doubt I’ll have to, though: I have a feeling this dynamic, funny, smart, upbeat, no-bullshit woman I’ve had the pleasure to get to know a little through this single event will not be a stranger to those of us in rescue. . . . I hope cupid’s arrow (for the love of pets) sticks with her. . . and she with us.

I want to close by mentioning: One of Spot’s long-term goals is to build an animal support network, complete with angels providing transport, medical care, foster placement and adoption in the quickest, most efficient ways. We’re committed to identifying existing resources in order to maximize them and eliminate redundancy. I dream of a network that is fast, efficient, and far-reaching, saving time, money . . . and MORE LIVES.

If you would like to be a part of growing this dream, every helping hand helps. Making phone calls, transporting animals, shooting out broadcast emails, fostering. Anything and everything matters. Every bit of effort touches a life. If you’d like to be a part, please let me know!  I’d love to hear from you and welcome you into this very special world.

‘til next time!


Angels: Ed & Maudie

I told you awhile ago about wanting to meet you here on occasion, when there were special tales to tell. Like RoseAnn Roseanna Danna said: “It’s always something.” The cool thing is, around here, that something is always pretty special.

Here’s the latest treasure I found while moving along the Spot landscape . . . .

It started as a routine call, with Shannon inquiring about advertising.

Her new book, The Miracles of Our Magnificent Ed was coming out, and she wanted to alert pet lovers to its release.

She talked about Ed, taken by cancer at age 5 in February ’09.

. . . then she talked about their beloved Maudie, whom they’d just lost, weeks before, to bone cancer. Maudie was 4.

My heart wailed.

Shannon shared her story about being “led” to write of the miracles Ed brought — “The book wrote itself,” she said, going on to tell how one of the first publishers she submitted the 30-page book to grabbed the phone and said, “Don’t go anywhere else.” Before she knew it, Shannon said, Magnificent Ed was on its way to a first printing.

Chatting on, I shared how I appreciated the magnitude of losing our beloved babies. I shared that my Broadway would be 15 soon, and randomly talked about plucking her fur and leaving it on the lawn for birds to use for their nests.

They have straw wreathes at Backyard Birdshops, she told me, equipped with soft things — fur, feathers, cottonballs — made especially for that very purpose!

I thoroughly enjoyed the “heart-touch” in connecting with Shannon. I marvel often at such regular blessings that come through Spot.

. . . I guess it’s one of those universal truths: those of us with a heart for animals recognize each other for the crazy, passionate, loving beings we are.  And when we connect, the magic flies.

The day after “meeting” Shannon I received an email from her. She said she wanted to do something for me — that I should collect tufts of Broadway’s fur so she could make us a wreath. . . .

What a gift! Not only have we made a new friend, but soon we’ll have a gift that will be a little magic from Broadway, a treat for our birds (we LOVE helping them pimp out their nests!), and a little bit of Shannon’s heart in our home.

Thanks for reading!

Catch you next time . . .


ps: Watch for Shannon’s book! When she told me that the chapter headings, rather than typical numbers (Chapter 1, Chapter 2),” are titled “Miracle One,” “Miracle Two” and so on, I thought . . . this is going to be special. ‘ )

pps: Shannon helped me perfect this share . . . who better to be my fact checker! In the process of identifying my boo-boos, she added this note. I feel in sharing this you’ll get a feel for this special woman:

I hope there is still room to print their sweet angel pictures.  Ed is so much bigger than Maudie, he was 115 pounds and Maudie was only 60. How they loved each other. 

. . . and . . .

BTW, I washed some blankets last week and saved the dryer lint for Broadway's wreath.  So warm and soft.

Behind the Curtain

I’ve often wanted to share with you some of the little (and not so little) everyday miracles that happen around here that don’t make the book. Kind of bringing you behind the scenes of Spot with us — a bunch of passionate, hard-working, fun- and animal-loving loons.

I’ll preface this by saying that the adventure that is Spot Magazine is and has been a marvelous, challenging, sometimes scary, and always filled-to-overflowing-with-blessings ride. And day to day, some occurrences astound while others shock, some bring a belly laugh and others bring a tear. Whatever it is, it’s never-ending. The stories are constant, and the telling often includes the phrase, “this is amazing.”

This week finally spurred me to get off the dime and begin. Welcome behind the scenes. I hope you enjoy your visit!

Here’s what happened this week.

I’d planned a segment for the April issue that, after a little tinkering, showed itself as scrap. Later than ideal I realized I needed to plan a new cover, since Plan A was tied to the now-scrapped segment. No worries; I went to Plan B, tying the cover to a new series we were launching on Great Danes.

Yeah, that didn’t work out either. We found we didn’t have any usable shots and we definitely didn’t have time for a shoot. So Plan C went into effect, tied to a feature on Autism Awareness Month.

Read about Autism Awareness by clicking hereWhich is what brought me to meeting (by phone) Virginia Dunn, mother of Bradley Larios, a 16-year-old who owns and operates the Brad’s Big Bully Dog Leads company, which makes canine gear tough enough for dogs like his. Also, Bradley has autism, and allocates a portion of his company’s proceeds to autism-related concerns.

It was getting really late in the cycle by the time Virginia and I connected. I thought since Bradley had a website, competed with his working dogs, and appeared to have decent publicity shots, it should be easy to get one suitable for the cover. What an awesome thing, I thought, to celebrate this young man who is doing so much. I love it when people do more than they have to.

It’s amazing how so often, things just turn out right.

But the cover is a wicked taskmaster. In order for an image to make the cut it not only must be clear, vibrant and compelling, it also must be very high res, just the right orientation (with its elements juxtaposed just so), and it must have that indefinable quality . . . that  je ne c’est quoi that grabs the heart, brings a smile, or just . . . touches.

Virginia was thrilled with the opportunity for Bradley to be our cover model. In fact, she cried.

I cried too when I learned what they’d been through in the past week. She has just been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Bradley had just become “indisposed” due to a medication-related meltdown. Virginia went on to say that in fact, Bradley was at a real low point just now, and she’d been praying for something, anything, good to happen.

So she went in search of a photo. After about 24 hours of busting her ass to get her hands on a cover-quality shot (very often we’ll think we’ve got it, and the artist says, “No, sorry, too small”). We fired a bunch of great shots at Spot’s Art Director and wiz kid, Lancea. While Virginia had found some great shots, they didn’t make the cut due to tech requirements.

But finally, she nailed it. About an hour before the time we’d deemed the shutdown point where we would simply have to move to another option in  order to make deadline, she went out and got scans of some great shots — one of which graces the cover of Spot’s April issue (another appears inside).

Bradley and his family are the kind of everyday people that, to me, are shining examples for all of us — models who demonstrate the extraordinary in the ordinary,  people who show us that  overcoming gargantuan challenges IS doable. It’s folks like these who remind me that, no matter what, there is a way. Heart, hard work and tenacity go a long way in making the climb surmountable.

Bradley and Virginia have and will surely continue to endure some really tough currents — likely to have as many moments at the sparkling crest of a wave as those low points after the swell — where it’s darker, colder. One thing I know about survivors like them is they make it through . . . and mostly hold fast to the high points.

Thank you Virginia and Bradley, for being diamonds in my sky this month!

And now, in the sharing, undoubtedly shining a little light on you, too.


Thanks for stopping by!

I hope you’ll visit again,