Friday, January 20, 2012

Tara Too Tough

My name is Tara Too Tough
I’ve landed back at STHS
Was livin’ a life that was too rough
Man, it was simply a mess

Let us start from the beginning
When I thought I’d found a great home
Just when it seemed I was winning
Back to the streets I did roam…..

I felt lost and confused
Pained and abused
Abandoned and lonely
Oh God…. If only…..

I could get something to eat
A warm place to sleep
A kid to take me for walks
A sneaky cat I could stalk

My nose was my guide
To my next meager meal
Tried my best to hide
And thought I was concealed

But my cover was blown
I heard a great crack
To the ground I was thrown
My world fading to black……

But I did not die
Or I could not rhyme
I was not called on high…
It was not my time

But my front leg was shattered
All bent and bloody
My body so tattered
Haggard and muddy

My leg finally healed
As I slowly regained health
And what was revealed
Well see for yourself:

A battle wound
A permanent limp
A homeless hound
A shelter dog gimp

My name is Tara
And I am Too Tough
Living out samsara
With the Billy Goat Gruff (desperate for a rhyming word)

Please come and visit our girl Tara, who was brought back to us with heartworms and a shattered leg. She has now successfully undergone heartworm treatment, and is searching for the wonderful and stable home that she so deserves!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blog it! Susie is leaving us.....

It is with a heavy heart that I write this blog. As some already know, Susie Kaznowitz, our volunteer and development coordinator, is leaving us in a few weeks. The reasons are written in the space time fabric of the universe and if you are intuitive enough to read it….it is there for all to see. For those of you who are space time fabrically challenged, I will say only that she is moving on to ever changing adventures and higher levels of growth on her journey. She will be sorely missed.

 Reasons Susie will be sorely missed:

1. When people use the expression, “So and so is a breath of fresh air,” they are talking about someone like Susie. When she walks into a room, the ether literally changes. Sometimes we used her as air freshener…..but we couldn’t find the ‘silent’ button, so that was short lived.

2. Susie is a straight shooter. If you want a completely honest and unbiased opinion – ask Susie. And she has them aplenty. But I’ve found, in coming to know Susie, that her opinion was always in line with how a decision affected the animals. For example, “Do we choose Sun Chips or pound cake to put in the vending machine this month?” Easy……what does Patricia like? Pound cake. As I said, always on the side of the animals…..

3. Susie is a team player. And what’s more, she is a versatile player. Just tell her what hat to put on and what position to play today, and our little chameleon is on it! From getting sponsors for fundraisers to planning birthday parties to constructing our website to managing all volunteers to helping in other departments when shorthanded……I could go on and on. Her excitement in answering the phone to make an appointment for the vet clinic is simply an inspiration in and of itself.

4. Susie’s laugh is contagious. Laughter is, indeed, the best medicine. And when Susie laughs from the deepest recesses of her soul (which is every time she laughs), I can see that even Michelle cannot stop the corners of her mouth from turning upward.

5. Her compassion is intertwined with the rarest commodity on the market: common sense. People are so worried about being politically correct, that their compassion at times seems more like a half- hearted attempt at being pathetically sympathetic. Susie hits you hard with a soft heart. THAT is compassion.

6. Susie is geographically challenged. And it makes us laugh.

7. Susie loves to color outside the lines. Not everyone appreciates this, and to these people I can only say, “Your world of black and white must be a dull one.” Here is her latest project:

8. And lastly, Susie fills her days with a colorful passion that must make passionless people simply green with envy. She LIVES. She LOVES. She RESCUES. And she has colored the lines of the St. Tammany Humane Society with a spirit that we should all strive to possess.

This is why we salute Susie, why she will be sorely missed, and we wish the world luck in dealing with her when she is in a bad mood.

STHS Staff

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Philosophy of Understanding Sid

We tout the fact that we are a no-kill shelter here at the St. Tammany Humane Society. And why not? It is a status to take pride in. I want you to keep this in mind as I veer from that point for a moment.

This morning, as I drank my jasmine tea and glanced at a short passage by Thich Nhat Hahn, I read, “To be true, love needs to contain both real understanding and right action which takes time and patience.” And I thought about this: To be true, love has a requisite of real understanding. Such a commonly accepted truth is oft times taken for granted, as these two words are linked together in our language almost ad nauseum. But when I took a moment to reflect upon this little over-quoted truism, I realized that I didn’t ‘understand’ understanding at all. When I think of the things in life that I truly love, then (and only then) do I fully comprehend what it means to understand, or empathize with another person, animal, or plant (I once had a very special friendship with a rubber tree with whom I felt a strong connection). Conversely, if I consciously make an effort (right action which takes time and patience, according to Thich Nhat Hahn) to understand a fellow being, a feeling of true love and compassion will naturally follow, as the two can hardly be separated.

Now that I have more accurately and clearly defined the relationship between love and understanding, I can see that you cannot have one without the other. If I love, I understand. If I understand, I love. And yet this simple equation has the masses confounded…..for we do not know how to begin the path which leads to understanding. It begins with ‘seeing’ what we are looking at.

I am the ideal example of one of the ignorant masses, as I am mediocre in almost every aspect of one’s mental, physical, and philosophical leanings. Therefore I shall use myself as the guinea pig in the following vignette.

Sid, as many of you who are familiar with STHS already know, is the longest resident at the Humane Society. He is a 4 year old mixed breed and has been here for about 3 of those years. I have walked past Sid’s kennel several hundred times, and watched with a wary eye as he sometimes (not always) lunged at the potential adopters walking by. I must admit, my level of understanding at this point was very low. And so, in an effort to socialize Sid, he was brought in as the ‘office dog’ for a while. Trying to scoot him out of the break room one afternoon, he whipped around and snapped at me in a sinister warning. Again….my level of understanding sunk even lower, probably teetering near rock bottom. In addition to negative firsthand experience, hearing negative second and third hand accounts seemed to accumulate and harden my already unfavorable feelings toward Sid.

And then I made the decision to mentally ‘stop’ and instead of merely looking at Sid, I made a sincere effort to ‘see’ Sid. And what I saw jarred me a little. For in trying to see Sid, I saw many aspects of myself.

I saw a soul sinking in the sedentary, trying to make sense of his world and those in it. I saw his fear of change. I saw confusion when he could not read the minds of people in knowing what was expected of him. I saw his yearning for affection and pleas for guidance. I saw his grit and spirit rise up when he felt cornered and misunderstood. I saw his hope wane behind the bars that he has unwittingly secured, blocking his path to freedom. I saw us all.

It is difficult to raise our awareness to a point to which we can truly ‘see’ ALL people and animals in this light. But not impossible. STHS challenges you to begin that path of understanding. And if you, or anyone you know, is an experienced dog owner and looking to adopt……..we ask that you consider our Sid. And in returning to my initial statement: St. Tammany Humane Society is a no-kill shelter, but we must be mindful of saving the spirit as well as the physical body of every animal in our care! Until then no shelter or rescue, in all honesty, can claim to be no kill. UNDERSTAND. LOVE. RESCUE.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

STHS: Looking back at 2011

As we usher in a new year, we at St. Tammany Humane Society wish to take a few moments to reflect upon the changes, growth, and success of 2011. We have seen both physical and financial growth, ranging from new buildings and programs to an increase in donations and fundraising.

Of course, everyone is familiar with our much anticipated spring and fall   fundraisers: Woofstock and Unleashed: Bash on the Bayou. Woofstock, held  at Pelican Park in 2011, ushered in spring fever for the pet lovers of the community with our low cost vet clinic, replete with all the pet care provisions and festival activities that make Woofstock such a howling good time. And though the absence of our honorary chairperson of Unleashed (Ian Somerholder) was certainly felt by his fans in attendance and those who acknowledge the wonderful things he has done for STHS, the event was a smashing success, raising $90,000 for our shelter!

Other fundraisers that our community supporters look forward to are our annual Poker Run on the Mandeville lakefront and Yappy Hour. STHS’s second annual Poker Run had a turnout that could definitely be considered a “full house” and the money raised had the shelter pups feeling pretty “flush.” In 2011 Yappy Hour got bitten with wanderlust, dubbing the monthly canine social hour “STHS Yappy Hour Road Tour,” rotating between our favorite local eateries and watering holes such as the Columbia Street Tap Room, The Beach House, Sorelli’s, and of course Yappy Hour’s birthplace…..Ruby’s Roadhouse.

And what other changes can be seen at the shelter? For one, 2011 also kicked off STHS Birthday ‘Paw’ties for youngsters who want to celebrate by ‘partying like an animal’ on their special day! Spay Day really drove home our mantra of “Fix Dat!” by spaying and neutering over 200 cats. Our rabies drive offered free rabies vaccinations, ensuring that pet owners in need would go mad with delight, but their dogs would not. And the grand opening of Scruffy 2 Fluffy (a do it yourself dog spa) made all of our, and your, dirty dogs a thing of the past.

All said, STHS (with the generous support and donations of those who believe in our no-kill cause) raised a total of $175,000 in fundraising efforts and $40,000 total value in physical donations such as food, cat litter, toys, etc.  All of which goes directly back to the homeless and abandoned dogs and cats of our community that we have committed to help and rehome. STHS’s low cost vet clinic, our yearly FUNdraisers, new programs, and hip additions are all in place for one reason: to better serve our mission to ‘save the life of every adoptable animal in our community through education, adoption, and spay/neuter programs.’

So just how many dogs and cats are finding new homes through St. Tammany Humane Society’s adoption program? In 2011, 700 dogs and cats were adopted to new forever homes. 150 of those dogs were adopted by forever homes in the north via our transport program Waggin’ Wheels.

And last but not least, the staff of St. Tammany Humane Society would also like to take this opportunity to welcome to the helm our new director, Vicky Kreeger, as she drives STHS into 2012 behind the wheel of our new Chevy Cruze Eco, the environmentally friendly car lowering our carbon ‘paw’prints one milestone after another.

Thank you to all of our donors and supporters who have made, and continue to make, it possible for STHS to maintain its place as the largest no-kill shelter in Louisiana. Our hope that 2012 brings with it continued growth and support lies with the animal lovers of our community. Happy New Year!